For both children and parents, family is something you hope to be able to count on. When your life outside the home is stressful, the people in your family are the ones you count on to provide support and stability.
A divorce can leave children and parents wondering whom they can count on. Often, divorce can make stressful situations more intense.
Here are some ways you can support your child’s mental health during a divorce.
Start the conversation early
Telling your children you and your spouse are getting a divorce can make the decision feel more final, which may make you uneasy about telling them. While you may want to avoid the unpleasantness of the conversation, it is better to start talking to your children early.
Most of the time, children crave stability. When something like a divorce is on the horizon, it can disrupt their natural order. Starting the conversation early gives you time to build a new sense of stability that your children can hold onto during the divorce.
Coping can be learned
Coping with stress has a foundation in problem-solving. In simple terms, being upset about a divorce is a stressor the brain needs to deal with and learning how to manage that stress becomes a way to cope.
Watch for signs that your child is having a difficult time, such as:
- Changes in sleep patterns (more, less or different times)
- Lack of interest in past hobbies
- Changes in academics
If you notice these changes in your child, it is time to start helping them learn how to manage their stress. Talk to your child about what they feel and what they can do about it. If you feel like your child needs skilled help, consider taking them to a professional who can support their needs.
Helping your child move forward
As you continue through the divorce process, help your child feel supported by making yourself a safe person to talk to. When they know they can come to you with their questions (and get age-appropriate responses), they can begin to build a new sense of stability.