Kathleen J. Smith, Attorney at Law

Coping skills to help your family come to terms with your divorce

Parenting does not come with a guarantee that you will never encounter emotional challenges in raising your children. Most California parents can speak of times when their families have had to overcome a problem. Numerous life situations can increase family life stress levels. Divorce, for instance, is a common yet challenging type of life-change that can either bring parents and children closer together in the relationships or drive them apart.  

Like most good parents, you want to provide your children as much support as possible as you all move on to a new lifestyle together. A key factor toward helping them cope lies in how you and your ex relate. Children typically fare best if their parents shield them from divorce-related conflicts. There are several ideas that may be helpful to you as you work toward a settlement and adapt to your new family dynamics. 

Positive reinforcement goes a long way 

In addition to trying to avoid dragging your kids into adult conflict, the following list shows other practical ways you can bolster support for your children during and after your divorce:  

  • Keep up with their daily routines as much as possible. A main goal is always to provide stability and continuity in children's lives, as such environments are most conducive toward children's overall good health. 
  • Don't be afraid to encourage your kids to stay closely connected to their other parent. 
  • Current data shows that children of households where parents' marriages are intact are likelier to be physically, emotionally and academically healthier than their peers whose parents have divorced; however, children of divorce can also thrive, especially if their parents are committed to keeping their best interests in mind.
  • Avoid trying to be friends rather than engaging in authoritative parenting. It's nice to get along well with your kids but studies show children fare best when parents are unafraid to place reasonable demands upon their kids to discipline them in a constructive, loving manner.  

Your children are bound to have good days and bad days as they come to terms with your divorce. Allowing them to freely share their emotions and letting them know you are there to provide support gives them confidence to approach you if they're feeling down, and also to believe that your divorce doesn't necessarily have to ruin their lives and that they can still enjoy a happy, healthy childhood.

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