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Q:

How can I help my child understand and cope with the concept of divorce or separation?

Hi everyone,

I am a single mother of two young children, and I recently went through a difficult divorce. My children are struggling to understand and cope with the changes in our family dynamic, and I am struggling to find ways to help them. I want to be able to explain the concept of divorce to them in a way they can understand, and to teach them ways to cope and adjust to our new situation.

I would love to hear from anyone who has gone through a similar situation with their children, or who has experience working with children and families dealing with divorce. Any advice or resources would be greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance!

All Replies

hartmann.paula

Hey there,

I can completely relate to what you're going through. I went through a divorce when my son was around 5 years old, and it was really tough to explain what was happening to him. But like you, I wanted to be honest with him and let him know that we were still there for him and that we still loved him.

One thing that helped me was using age-appropriate language to explain what was happening. I told my son that sometimes couples fall out of love and decide to separate, but that it wasn't his fault and we both still loved him just the same.

It was also important for me to establish a routine for him, just like the first responder in this thread pointed out. I made sure that he still went to school, still had his activities and that he spent time with both his father and me. We tried to keep his life as consistent and normal as possible, and it seemed to help him adjust well.

Lastly, I found that being positive and optimistic about the future helped him cope. I tried to focus on the things we could do as a family, even though we were living separately, like taking trips or going to the park. It really helped my son to see that just because we were divorced, it didn't mean he couldn't have fun with both his parents.

Hope that helps, and know that you're not alone in this journey.

ghansen

Hi there,

I can definitely relate to this situation as I went through a divorce with my children a few years ago. One thing that helped ease the transition was finding positive ways for my children to express their emotions. It's not easy for children to understand why their parents are separating, and it is even more challenging for them to express their feelings about it, especially when they do not want to hurt your feelings or create more conflict.

In my case, one of my children found that drawing helped them express how they were feeling. So, we got a piece of paper and some crayons and asked them to draw what was on their mind. Another one of my children found that writing down their thoughts helped them, so we provided them with a journal that they could use as an outlet. Allowing them to express their emotions in a non-confrontational way made them feel heard and helped release built-up feelings.

Another thing that helped us was keeping routines consistent in both households. We tried to have consistent sleeping patterns, homework routines, and meal times, regardless of whether the child was at Mom's or Dad's house. It helped our children find stability during this difficult experience.

Lastly, I would like to offer the idea of being flexible in co-parenting. Work with your ex-partner to create a parenting plan that is responsive to changes in schools, extracurricular activities, and work schedules. For instance, we made an agreement to notify one another of upcoming events and made changes to the visitation plan when necessary. It allowed us to work together to provide a positive and stable environment for our children.

I hope this helps you during this time of transition. Remember that each child is different and may take some time to adjust. Be patient and offer support and reassurance, and things will get better for you and your family.

flossie.lindgren

Hello,

I went through a tough divorce with my children when they were around the same age as yours. It was an emotionally challenging experience, but there are things we did that I believe helped us. I agree with the other responders that it's important to communicate with your children honestly, but I want to emphasize the importance of making sure the tone is age-appropriate.

In a way, children see their parents as superhuman beings that they feel can make anything go away. If they are not told about the divorce in a way that is appropriate for their age, there is a chance they may blame themselves to the separation or begin to feel like they can't come to either parent for comfort.

Another point I want to add is this -if possible, try to keep your children's daily routine and schedule almost exactly the same every day. It will provide them with a sense of security and stability during an unstable time while also creating a sense of normality. It also helped for the children to know what days they would be spending with each parent.

It can also be challenging to try to keep up with day-to-day tasks while also dealing with the emotional turmoil of a separation/divorce. It's okay to say "no" to activities or take a break from volunteering efforts for the moment. Self-care is essential during this time.

In my situation, I leaned on friends and family for support, and it helped me through this challenging time. I hope this advice helps you during this time, and know you are not alone.

blair.schiller

Hello,

I understand how tough it can be for children to adjust to the changes that divorce causes in their lives. A few years back, I went through a divorce with two young children, and it was hard for them to understand what was happening.

One thing that I found helpful in explaining the concept of divorce to my children was using visuals, like pictures or storybooks. There are several age-appropriate books about separation and divorce, which can help children understand what's going on and feel less alone.

Another thing that I found useful was reassuring my children that even though things were changing, some things would remain the same. I made sure they knew that I would always be their mother, and they would always be loved, no matter what. I also made sure to keep their routines consistent to provide them with some form of stability.

Emotion is a critical part of any divorce situation, and choosing to move on positively is a healthy option. Avoid involving your children in any negative or hostile talk about your former spouse, as it can add pressure to the children's emotional state. Children in these situations can easily be influenced and should not be used as pawns.

Lastly, allow your children the freedom to express their feelings, be it positive or negative. Create an open and safe space for them to talk about how they're feeling, and try to validate their emotions. It shows your children that you are there for them and helps them feel heard.

In summary, it is vital to communicate honestly and calmly, offer emotional support, and maintain consistency as much as possible. Although the experience may be challenging for you and your children, know that you can get through it together.

daphney.ebert

Hi there,

I can understand how difficult it can be to help your children cope with the concept of divorce or separation. Sharing my experience, one thing that I found valuable in helping my children through my own separation was providing them with opportunities to ask questions and be heard.

Children are curious and want to understand why things are happening around them. Being able to vocalize their feelings can help them feel validated, and it can also offer insight into how they are processing the situation. I found that offering age-appropriate context about the changes happening helped me a lot; it allowed me to answer their questions and reassure them.

Another thing that can be helpful is staying positive and proactive about the future. Sometimes, divorce can create a feeling of uncertainty and fear, especially for younger children who may not have fully comprehended was is going on. Talking about fun plans we could do together after the separation (like movies, picnics, playing with pets, etc.) helped shift the focus from the negatives to the positives.

It is also helpful to keep your child's routine consistent even with the changes. The familiarity of participating in regular activities or being a part of any hobbies or sports that they enjoy can offer a sense of stability amidst the instability.

Lastly, I found it beneficial to get support from friends or other family members. It may be hard to talk to children during the initial phases of the divorce or separation. Speak to family members, friends or people who have experienced something similar, as they can offer insights and provide a sounding board for the emotions you're feeling.

I hope these ideas will be useful in your situation. Remember, divorce is not easy, but with time and support, you and your children will get through it.

agustin.muller

Hello there,

I am sorry to hear that you are going through an overwhelming divorce. Speaking from personal experience, it's essential to remember that above all else, it is essential to prioritize your child's wellbeing, especially during this difficult time.

One of the things I did during my divorce that benefited me and my children was keeping to our daily routines as much as possible. Children thrive on consistency and structure, and maintaining a sense of normalcy with familiar routines can help alleviate any anxiety or confusion they may feel.

Another helpful strategy is preparing your child for the changes they may face. For instance, if your child is moving to a new house, take the time to talk to them about it, ask for their input on how they may want their room arranged, etc. Involving them in the process can ease some of the uncertainty they feel.

Involving a professional, such as a therapist or counselor, for both yourself and your children, can be an excellent way to help them work through any difficulties that may arise during this time. They can provide healthy coping mechanisms for your child to deal with the emotions of the divorce and assist you in making informed decisions to help your child thrive.

Finally, when communicating with your child about the divorce, choose your words carefully and choose an age-appropriate approach. Be honest but avoid oversharing. Speak from a place of compassion and tell them that the decision to divorce was not theirs and that you both love them unconditionally.

I hope that sharing my experiences can help you navigate this challenging time. Remember, every kid and family's situation is different, and it's okay to give yourself and your child some time to adjust.

jarvis97

Hello,

I understand how difficult it can be to help your child understand and cope with divorce. I went through a divorce a few years ago and had to help my daughter through it. Like the others, I too, think that open and honest communication is key, but there is something else that I found helpful in my situation.

It is really important to validate your child’s feelings. Listen to their concerns and provide reassurance that what they’re feeling is natural. Do not brush off their feelings or be dismissive, it will only make them feel like they cannot come to you. It's important to address their concerns in a calm and patient manner and assure them that everything will be okay.

Another thing that helped us was to help our daughter understand that the divorce was not her fault in any way. Kids tend to have a million questions during such times, and we tried to answer her questions honestly, but without giving too much information, keeping in mind the age-appropriateness.

Lastly, I would like to suggest seeking professional help if your child is struggling to cope with the effects of divorce. A counselor or therapist can help provide them with coping tools and strategies to use when needed. It can also help to alleviate the stress on parents from having to bear their child's emotional burdens alone.

I hope my experience offers some useful insight. Best of luck to you and your family.

cleannon

Hi there,

I went through a divorce a few years ago when my children were around the same age as yours. It was a very challenging time for our family, but we were able to work through it together. One thing that really helped was being honest and transparent with our children about what was happening. We explained to them that sometimes grown-ups decide that they can't live together anymore, but that we still loved them very much and would always be there for them.

We also made sure to keep their routine as consistent as possible. We continued with their same activities, such as sports or music lessons, and tried to maintain a sense of normalcy in their day-to-day life. We also let them know that it was okay to have mixed feelings and that it was important to talk about how they were feeling.

Another resource that helped us was finding a support group for families going through divorce. This provided a safe space for us to share our experiences and get advice from others who had gone through something similar.

I hope this helps, and I wish you all the best as you navigate this difficult time with your children. Just remember to be patient and loving, and your family will get through this.

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