Divorce is usually tough on children. Here are some ways to lend comfort and help them cope with the situation at different stages of the divorce.
Before the Divorce
- Sit down with your children and talk to them about the divorce as soon as a definite decision is reached. Although there’s no easy way to break the news, plan what you would say and be honest and straightforward.
- Give them a simple reason to explain why you are getting a divorce. Reassure them that what has happened between Mum and Dad is not their fault.
- Give them information on the things that will stay the same and the changes that will occur.
- Acknowledge your children’s feelings. Let them know that both of you still love and care for them.
- Encourage any questions about the divorce that your child might have. You should also think about these questions in advance and how you would answer them.
During the Divorce
- Express your love for your children regularly.
- Share with them what is happening. Tell them the day-to-day changes that will take place such as schooling and weekend activities, so that they can prepare themselves for it.
- Keep a watchful eye over their emotions and be alert to any changes in their mood and behaviour.
- Keep a close watch on their activities and look out for bad influences. Seeking comfort and support with the wrong friends can lead to children becoming involved in undesirable activities like smoking, drinking and delinquent acts.
- Be consistent in your discipline. During this difficult period, you may become less tolerant or ignore behaviour you would normally discipline, which could lead to more problems later on.
After the Divorce
- Take care of yourself. The best way for your children to cope and build resilience is for you to get healthy and strong first.
- Try and manage your emotions so your children will not worry about you.
- Follow the agreed parenting plan. Make changes slowly, work to keep routines and give your children time and space to adapt.
- Work together with your ex-spouse on co-parenting.
- Let your children love the other parent.
- Get help for your children if you find that they are having trouble coping with the divorce and the changes taking place.
The Divorce Support Specialist Agencies (DSSAs) have programmes to help divorcing couples and their families.
To find out more about their programmes and how you can help your children cope with divorce, please visit DSSA Services and Programmes.