Don’t lead your child to believe “Dad’s away on business” or “Everything is going to be wonderful” Children are very perceptive . They know if a parent is trying to hide something, even if the purpose is to spare their feelings. Children need straight forward answers they can understand, without blame or making anyone wrong or bad.
Let your child know it is not their fault
All children in divorced families assume they may be responsible for their parents’ breakup. Children need to be gently reassured, repeatedly over the first couple of years, that divorce is an adult decision having nothing to do with them or their behavior.
Children have many questions, feelings, assumptions and concerns about divorce. Many parents find it difficult to just sit quietly and listen to their children talk without trying to interrupt with a “Fix-it” statement to help them feel better. Children need to feel heard with quiet patience and undivided attention.
Let your child know it is normal for them to want their parents to get
Children can feel ashamed about this very normal wish. You can explain to your child that one divorced, it is very unlikely that people ever get back together, but their wish for reconciliation is very normal.
Let your child know that however they respond to the divorce is O.K.
Many children hide their feelings of sadness, grief, anger or confusion because they are afraid expressing these feelings will upset their parents. Children need to know their feelings are acceptable.
Ask your child about friends of theirs whose parents are divorced
This is a good way to learn of your child’s fears and assumptions about divorced parents, and gives you the opportunity to clear up any misconceptions and remind them that other children have gone through what they are now going through.
Don’t put your child in the middle or try to make them take sides
Don’t say anything about your ex in ear-shot of your child. Don’t have your child carry messages to your ex. Children need to be able to love both parents. If one parent is disapproving of affection a child expresses toward the other parent, the child will begin to withdraw, become dishonest or depressed.
Spend time with caring friends
Having your own supportive network can protect your child from becoming your confidant and feeling responsible for your emotional well-being. It can also give you a higher frustration tolerance for the normal everyday things kids do. Spend time with friends who will help feed your spiritual side. This is the time to feel loved and connected with those who care about you.
Read together and talk about a book on divorce for children
This will help you explain important facts to your child and help your child formulate questions they might otherwise not have words for. A wonderful interactive book to read with your child is "MY Parents Still Love Me Even Though They’re Getting Divorced," written by Dr. Lois Nightengale. (714) 993-5343