Pediatricians Can Help Kids Deal With Their Parents' Divorce
When kids are small, we drag them to the pediatrician's office for almost everything—weird rashes, crazy coughs, flu shots, sore throats, ear infections...the list goes on. And while guidance for dealing with divorce isn't usually on it, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, it probably should be.
Why? Because according to the AAP, more than one million parents break up in the U.S. each year, and your trusty old family doc can play an important role in helping kids cope with emotional trauma from the split.
"Pediatricians can help parents understand their children's reactions and encourage them to discuss the divorce process with their children," the report authors wrote.
Here are five suggestions to maximize your child's doctor as a resource during a split:
- Let your child's doctor know about a dysfunctional marriage or impending separation.
- Remember that your actions as a parent during and after a divorce are very important in terms of your child's adjustment.
- Discuss your child's reaction to your divorce with your pediatrician, and be on the lookout for these common emotions: guilt, anger, sadness, and perceived loss of love.
- Don't expect your pediatrician to take sides with one parent or the other. He/she is more likely to encourageopen discussionbetween parties.
- If necessary, ask your pediatrician for a referralto mental health and child-oriented resources that specialize in divorce.
The report also stressed the importance of long-term follow-up, because while many children are able to adjust to the separation or divorce within a few years, a child's sense of loss may last much longer and flare during holidays, birthdays or other special events—and they might benefit from ongoing professional counseling.
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Click here to read the report in its entirety.