Don't bend the rules
It might be tempting to relax your parental rules while your child grieves the divorce, but this could lead to even more insecurity. Children thrive on consistency, structure and routine — even if they insist on testing the boundaries and limits. If your child shares time between two households, it's important to maintain similar rules in both homes.
Counseling can help
You might feel so hurt or overwhelmed by your divorce that you turn to your child for comfort and direction, but that's not your child's role. For help sorting through your feelings, consider joining a divorce support group or seeking counseling through a social service agency or mental health center. If you and your spouse need help reaching decisions about your child during or after the divorce, consider using the services of a family or divorce mediator.
Your child might also benefit from counseling, especially if he or she has significant behavioral issues, seems depressed or has trouble adjusting to the divorce after the first year.
Put your child first
During a divorce, interacting with your spouse might be the last thing you want to do — but it's important. Your child needs both of you. Work out custody arrangements and other details with your child's best interests in mind. This could mean putting your child's needs ahead of your own wishes or desires. Also, remember that a bitter or prolonged custody battle could take a serious, long-term toll on your child's mental health. Instead, help your child maintain a strong, loving relationship with the other parent as you work toward meeting common parenting goals. For your child, support from both parents may be the best tool for weathering the challenges of divorce.
May. 14, 2011
See more In-depth
- Children and divorce. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. http://aacap.org/page.ww?name=Children+and+Divorce§ion=Facts+for+Families. Accessed Jan. 28, 2011.
- Desrochers JE. Divorce: A parents' guide for supporting children. National Association of School Psychologists. http://www.nasponline.org/resources/parenting/divorce_ho.aspx. Accessed Jan. 28, 2011.
- Adjusting to divorce. American Academy of Pediatrics. http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/types-of-families/pages/Adjusting-to-Divorce.aspx. Accessed Jan. 28, 2011.
- Wolchik SA, et al. Promoting resilience in youth from divorced families: Lessons learned from experimental trials of the New Beginnings Program. Journal of Personality. 2009;77:1833.
- Graves RM, et al. Children of divorce. In: McInerny TK, et al. American Academy of Pediatrics Textbook of Pediatric Care. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009:1056.
- Divorce, separation and bereavement. In: Marcdante KJ, et al. Nelson Essentials of Pediatrics. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:98.