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How can I help my kids adjust to the divorce?

No parent wants to see their kids unhappy, especially when the reason behind it is the parents' divorce. It is perfectly normal for children to struggle during this difficult time. They may profess to be fine, yet still struggle to cope with the changes.

Below are some suggestions for getting through this critical period.

Don't tell them every detail

If the divorce is still pending, limit what you tell the kids so as not to mar their relationship with their other parent. Remember, too, that "little pitchers have big ears." Save your griping for your family law attorney or therapist.

Focus on what will not change

Kids need continuity and stability to thrive. By reassuring them that both parents will continue to love them and remain in their lives, you can allay any doubts they may have. Make sure that they understand that they are not the reason behind the split.

Keep the lines of communication open

Allow them to express their feelings openly about the divorce. But don't pressure them to discuss it if they prefer not to. If they do open up, make sure that you really listen to what they are saying. Be honest with them when they ask questions, but refrain from discussing the details with them, e.g., who was at fault in the marriage, etc.

Be forthright about the changes they will face

If their living situation is going to change or if they will need to transfer to a different school, discuss this with them so they can get used to the idea. Don't spring major changes on kids out of the blue.

Encourage them to remain close to their other parent

Even if it hurts to see them looking forward to visitation with mom or dad, realize this is healthy. Don't press them for information about your ex or how they spend their time together.

Know when to call in a professional

If the kids are really struggling and the divorce is affecting their academic performances or social lives, ask your children's pediatrician for a referral to a Maricopa County children's therapist to help them get over this hurdle and move on.

Source: Caring for Kids, "Helping children cope with separation and divorce," accessed Dec. 29, 2017

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