Every year, more than one million children in the United States experience the divorce of their parents, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Many of these children are under the age of 6. Divorce brings about a great deal of changes for a family and the children usually have trouble adjusting to this new lifestyle. Read on for some guidelines on making the transition easier for the youngest members of the family.
Here are some tips from the AAP and the American Medical Association (AMA) on telling your child about an impending divorce and helping ensure a smoother transition for everyone:
Every child will react differently to a separation or divorce. Here are some general guidelines from the AAP on behavioral changes to expect:
Children under 5 years of age may:
School-age children may:
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.
Working out custody arrangements can be one of the most difficult elements of a divorce. However, there is a large variety of custody arrangements you can agree upon. There are two legal types of custody, according to the AAP:
Mothers are more likely to maintain physical custody of a child, but more and more fathers are now taking on this role. Regardless of which parent has custody, both should play an active role in the child's daily life by helping with homework, attending school meetings, and providing emotional and financial support. Neither parent should be prevented from taking part in raising the child.
Both parents have a financial obligation to their child, but millions of female-headed households aren't currently receiving child support, according to the AAP. Contact your state's child support enforcement agency for guidelines on your local laws about child support. If your child's other parent will not cooperate, your state or local government may take action to force payment.
If you're having custody or child support disagreements, consider calling a mediator or attorney to help settle the problem.
The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.