Dealing with Divorce

Adjusting to a New Life

The changes that come with divorce can be jarring to a child. Here are some tips from the AAP and the AMA on smoothing the transition.

  • Provide consistency and routine. Stick to a daily schedule of meals, chores, and bedtime. Parents living separately should agree on a set of consistent rules for both households.
  • Live up to your promises. If a parent plans a visit or an outing with her child, she needs to follow through on it. Broken promises can foster a feeling of abandonment.
  • Keep your relationship with your former partner cordial. Your child will feel more comfortable sharing his love with both parents if he experiences a civility between them.
  • Respect the relationship between your child and his other parent. Assure your child that spending time with his other parent is in no way disloyal to you. Let your child talk with you about your former partner without feeling uncomfortable.
  • Don't hesitate to discipline your child. A recently-divorced parent often feels the need to "pamper" her child. Resist the urge to let a child grieving over a divorce get away with behaviors that are otherwise unacceptable.
  • Stay in a parental role. Remember that your child is still a child -- not a confidant. If you share stories about marital problems with your child, he may have difficulty relating to the other parent. Avoid putting your child in the middle of what is truly an adult situation that they don't have the maturity to handle.
  • Resist using your child as a replacement for your former partner. Avoid pressuring children with statements like, "You're the man in the family now." Children have a right to enjoy childhood and grow up at a normal pace.

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