11 Rules for Helping Your Child Deal With Divorce

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6. Get others involved.

Attempt to include other reliable, caring adults in your child's life. Not only are devoted family members and friends role models your child can depend on, but their commitment takes pressure off you.

7. Don't fight in front of your kids -- period.

Heated conversations regarding unreliability or finances should take place on the phone when your kids aren't around. Research has found that the most poorly adjusted kids of divorce are those exposed to ongoing parental battles. "No one is saying you have to be best friends," Dr. Teyber says. "Some couples simply can't get along or trust each other and aren't likely to. But for your children's sake, you must stop fighting in front of them."

8. Aim for peaceful transitions.

Even if you're not openly argumentative, kids can sense tension and become anxious themselves. According to Dr. Knox, research shows that many fathers avoid visiting their children simply because running into their exes becomes too much of an ordeal. "Some dads complain that they just can't handle the conflict when seeing their former spouse," he says. "Or a dad arrives to a clearly anxious child and assumes his ex has been bad-mouthing him. The father ends up rationalizing that it's better if he doesn't come at all." No matter how upset or angry you feel, be civil. If you truly can't, it might be best for your ex to collect your child from neutral ground -- at a friend's, at school, or at a McDonald's -- and you can leave for your car when you see him drive in.

9. Say goodbye with a smile.

When your child does go off to be with the other parent, make it clear that you're happy she's spending time with him. Mothers can unconsciously make their child feel guilty about leaving. "If a child sees her mom is upset when it's time for her to leave, she won't be able to have a good time with her father," Dr. Teyber says. Let your child know she doesn't need to worry about you. This will help your ex feel less tense about pickups too.

10. Send the right welcome-home message.

Parents are often unsure what to say when their kids come home from an ex's house. They don't want to seem disinterested, yet they're concerned about appearing too inquisitive. To play it safe, they may say nothing. "This silence unconsciously sends the message that you're either unhappy, disapproving, or uncomfortable with the time he spent with his other parent," Neuman says. "Or it makes the child feel as if the visit has betrayed you in some way." How to best handle their return? Pretend your kids came home from a weekend at their grandparents' house. Be interested and supportive.

11. Allow kids to express disappointment.

Don't downplay your child's pain and sadness. While done with the best intentions, telling kids comforting things like "It's better this way" and "Don't worry, everything will be fine" sends the message that you can't deal with your child's unhappiness, or worse, that he shouldn't feel that way. "Whether he's upset about the divorce in general or about something more specific, like a parent's having to work late again, anger and disappointment are normal, healthy emotional reactions," Neuman says. "A child is entitled to these feelings and should be able to talk about them without worrying that his parents will be upset or angry." Offer your support and comfort by letting your child know you understand -- and that his feelings matter. "Then he'll be free to confront disappointment rather than avoid it," Neuman says. "This will serve him well throughout his life."

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