Dos and don’ts of helping California children cope with divorce

The divorce of their parents may be challenging for some kids, but there are things that parents can do to help them cope with this type of life change.

As of 2013, the parents of 1.5 million children across the U.S. get divorced each year, according to Scientific American. When there are kids involved, it can make the end of a marriage even more challenging. Since they often do not understand what is going on or why these changes are happening, some children may struggle to adjust to this type of major life change. However, California parents may help their kids to cope with a divorce by following these dos and don'ts.

Do put the children first

It is common for divorcing spouses to be at odds with one another and to have arguments and differences of opinion. However, Scientific American reports that research has shown that children who are exposed to prolonged conflict between their parents may have more trouble adjusting to divorce. Therefore, it is advisable that parents put their children's needs ahead of their own. They should do their best not to fight or speak negatively about their former partners in front of their kids.

Don't create divides

With few exceptions, it is important for children to have a relationship with both of their parents. As such, people should encourage their kids to maintain the parent-child relationship with their former partners during and after a divorce. Furthermore, parents should refrain from putting their children in a position where they feel guilty for spending time with their other parents or as though they must choose a side.

Do offer reassurances

United HealthCare Services, Inc., points out that children often feel as though they have done something to cause their parents' divorce. This is especially common for kids who are three-years-old or younger when their parents split. Thus, it is advisable that people reassure their children that they are in no way responsible for their divorce.

Don't introduce other major changes

As a result of one household becoming two and other related changes, divorce often creates significant upheaval in children's lives. For some children, this creates instability, which may cause them anxiety and upset. During the divorce process, it is suggested that parents avoid introducing other major changes into their children's lives as much as possible. This includes moving them to a new school or community.

Do encourage communication

Initially the news of their parents' pending divorce may shock children. However, once they have had time to process what is happening, they may have questions or want to discuss how they are feeling. Although it may be difficult in some cases for parents to hear how their decision to split has affected their children, it is recommended that they encourage their children to communicate. Doing so may help their children to process their emotions and allow them to gauge how their kids are coping with the changes.

Don't change the rules

During and after a divorce, some parents may relax their parenting rules in an effort to make things easier on them. However, bending these rules could adversely impact the consistency, routine and structure in their households. The Mayo Clinic points out that this may cause insecurities for children. By continuing to parent as they always have, people may provide the security their children need.

Obtain legal assistance

Going through a divorce may be challenging enough for adults in California. However, it may be even more difficult for the children of divorcing couples, particularly if the matter is drawn out or contentious. Thus, it may be helpful for parents who are ending their marriages to seek legal guidance. An attorney may guide them through the process and aid them in negotiating a settlement.