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690 Flatbush Avenue West Hartford, CT  06110-1308

860 236-9350             800 856-6400  toll free     860 523-9101  fax

27 Holmes Avenue Downtown Waterbury 203 756-6100

 

Helping Your Children Cope With Divorce

    A divorce is particularly hard on children.  Children may feel abandoned, guilty, angry and hurt.  The breakup of the family threatens a child's sense of security about the world.

    Following these recommendations will lessen the difficulties faced by your children when you and your spouse are going through a divorce.

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You and your spouse together should tell your children that you will be separating.
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Tell your children that you and your spouse will continue to be their mother and father and continue to love them.

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Do not try to explain in detail the reasons for the divorce.  Simply tell your children that the two of you are unhappy living together and that you feel it will be better for everyone if you separate.

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Do not criticize your spouse in front of your children.
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Your children generally will feel loyal to both you and your spouse.

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Criticizing your spouse in front of your children may make your children feel they have to take sides.

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Children generally feel that they are a combination of both parents.  Demeaning your spouse may make your children feel that you are demeaning them.

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Keep your children's routine as normal as possible.
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If one parent typically handled a certain activity, such as taking children for haircuts, have that parent continue to handle that activity if possible.

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Keep your children's mealtimes, homework routine, and bedtimes as similar as possible in your home and in your spouse's home.

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Attend teacher conferences and other events together with your spouse if you did so before the separation.

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Refer to yourselves the way you did while together.
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When talking about your spouse in front of your children, say "Dad" or "Mom" or whatever term you used before the separation.  Do not say "your father" or "your mother" as this will makes your children feel partially separated from you.

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Continue to say "we" when talking to your children about you, your spouse and your children as a unit.  Do not say "we and your father" or "we and your mother."

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Communicate with your spouse directly and not through your children.
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If you need to communicate with your spouse, do so in person, by telephone  or by email.  Do not use your children as messengers.

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It is natural for you to be hurt and angry with your spouse.  However, if you have children, you will always have to communicate on some level with your spouse.  The earlier you learn to communicate calmly the better off you will be.

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Do not discuss finances in front of your children.
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If you tell your children that your spouse is late with child support or alimony payments, your children may worry that they will be without food or other essentials.

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If you are paying child support or alimony and complain about the amounts to your children, they may feel guilty about being a financial burden.

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Use counseling when necessary.
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Let your children know that counseling is available to them to help them cope with the divorce.

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Avoid using counseling merely to try to show a divorce court that your spouse has psychologically injured you or your children.

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