Responding to children's reaction to divorce
As a parent or caregiver to children who are having a hard time adjusting to their parent's divorce, recognizing the emotional turmoil is easy, but how do you deal with it? Affirm the validity of what they are feeling and tell them that things will get better with time. This is true and the approach might be what some kids need to bounce back from their self-pity, but some children will not. While it is important to tell children what is happening at every stage of the divorce process, watch out for their reaction and how their behavior and attitude changes. As an adult, it might have taken you time for the reality of divorce to sink in and this points at the different pace at which everyone processes information. Your children even though older, and at the age where they are able to comprehend issues, might need time to synthesize this change in their lives.

The news of a divorce is shocking, to say the least but must be eventually accepted by all involved, including the children. As you speak to them about the details of how life will be after the legal process, let them know that they are free to voice opinions and make suggestions because it is their life too. So often children will try to be the match-maker for their parents or act as if the new turn of events does not concern them. It is important to point out at an early stage that divorce is for adults and you are equipped to handle it as such. At the same time, be keen to observe a change in the way they relate to other children, eat their food or sleep; sadness does not always come out as tears and anger.

They might not understand how to live in a family where one parent is missing but they sure are concerned about how their life will change after the divorce. Here are ways to respond to their concerns;

Don't let it get ugly

In a Divorce, it is often difficult to be civil to your spouse. If at all possible, opt for divorce mediation instead of a long drawn out legal fight. The mediation approach fosters helpful attitudes, right from the start
and means more money will be available to each party as they rebuild.

Offer encouragement

Be honest when recognizing their feelings; it will help them get over the divorce faster if you encourage them to express themselves openly and taking what they say seriously. Understand that to them divorce means being different from other children and this may take the time to get used to.

Help them to verbalize their feelings

Children are the most genuine people to deal with. Feelings of anger, sadness or happiness clearly show through their facial expressions and behavior. If you notice a look on their faces that is not normally there, acknowledge it immediately then ask them to explain why it is so. It takes time for a child to bring out the point on why they feel low, unhappy or angry but by giving them time and paying attention to what you say, you can make sense of their state of mind.

Validate their feelings

Having lived with both parents since they were born, it is natural that the absence of one of you might cause children to feel insecure from time to time. Even before any effort to make the situation better, legitimize their emotions by confirming to them that everyone in the same circumstances as them would feel the same. At the same time, teach them to be in tune with the present by enjoying fun moments and appreciating the things they have.

Provide support

You might not realize it but your children need more support than you do when you and your spouse are going through a divorce. Apart from encouraging them to voice their frustrations, give them permission to give ideas on what could brighten their mood or uplift their spirits. If they are not able to choose, giving them a few ideas on activities you know they like can make them have a different view of life in general.

Seek help

For you to effectively offer support to your child throughout this delicate phase, consider enlisting a professional. Even the strongest characters can cave with the pressure of an ending relationship and you do not want your children's future to be affected by the process. Divorce is a personal affair but is not unique to anyone; there are support groups, physical and online where you can find consolation and survival tips as you begin this new chapter of life. Even your doctor and religious leaders could offer great insight into how best to deal with the emotions that your children portray during this time.


Before, during and after the divorce process, your children will be the most consistent aspect of your life. They look up to you and their love is unconditional but this is no reason to look up to them for support. If the children are a bit older, acknowledge their efforts to ease your pain but do not be tempted to vent out to them.

Author's Bio: 

Angelina is a renowned writer, public speeker and motivation coach. She studied psychology and did her phD in California School of Psychology.