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How to Protect the Kids During Your Divorce
by Kim Hess

It is important to remember that just because you and your spouse are divorcing, doesn't mean you and your kids are divorcing.  Being a parent is a lifelong job, which is a message you must convey to your kids.  Here are some tips to make your kids feel safe and protected while dealing with your divorce.

Be Consistent

  • Children going through the separation or divorce of their parents need stability. Stability acts as an anchor in the troubled waters of this difficult time. Maintain consistency with everyday things such as same time for meals and bedtime routines (brushing teeth, reading story, tucking in, etc.).  Keep rewards and discipline the same. Your children will crave the safety of familiarity you provide them.

Give Affection

  • Remember to provide your children with extra love and hugs during this time.  Make sure not to overdo it or indulge them. A show of love can make this hard time a little less scary and lonely.

Help them stay connected

  • It is important to support your children's activities and friendships.  Make an effort to make sure your kids are enjoying their friendships with other children.

Provide Reassurance

  • Your children need to hear that the divorce is not their fault and that both parents still and will always love them. Make sure they are not are worried about where they will live, having food, or if they will be able to keep the same friends. Do everything you can to keep them from worrying about the upcoming changes.

Spare them the fights

  • Make sure if you have disagreements with your former partner that it is not in front of the kids. If you can, try to make sure that your children don't hear you arguing or talking badly about your former partner.  Do not encourage them to take sides. Do not use your children to deliver message to your former partner.

Take Care of Yourself

  • One of the most important things you can do for your children is to make sure you are taking care of yourself.  Children model your behavior, and they need to know how to stay healthy and positive during difficult times.  Make sure you are eating, sleeping, and exercising well.  Though it is easy to isolate yourself during a divorce, try to spend time with family and friends who are supportive of you.  Consider seeing a therapist or joining a support group to help with feelings of depression, anxiety, anger or other emotions that are hard to handle on your own.

Even though this is a difficult time for everyone involved, avoid letting your children take care of you.  They may want to play the adult role in comforting you, but let your children be children and don't expect them to take over your parenting role.

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