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Even though the writing is often on the wall, when a marriage has run its course, it often comes as a surprise to at least one spouse.

Who is even more surprised that the taken aback spouse? The children. No matter their age, divorce is a shock. If the child is high school-aged, they might be a little less surprised if they were aware enough of their surroundings, but many couples try to hide their arguments and spats from their children, which makes the speaking of divorce that much more of a surprise to their young minds.

For the sake of you and your children’s well-being and ability to process the divorce healthily, taking care of your mental and physical state is vitally important.

Five other strategies to follow that will help your children adjust throughout the divorce process are as follows.

Don’t try to hide or sugarcoat the truth

Many parents like to soften the blow when delivering bad news, but in the event of a divorce announcement, or even post-divorce while trying to co-parent, tell it like it is. Do not provide excuses for the other parent. For the child to process information healthily, they need the truth. This doesn’t mean airing every grievance to your child but make them aware of what is taking place in words they can understand.

Don’t treat your child a soundingboard

It can be tough to let the world or even one confidant know your problems, but releasing that emotion is good for one’s mental state. The one person who shouldn’t have to listen to your issues is your children. Find a therapist, a close relative or a close friend that you trust to divulge all that pain you feel for your ex and the current situation. One of the jobs of a parent is to listen to children’s problems and make them feel better, not the other way around.

Foster communication

Your child is likely to have a lot of questions but will be afraid to ask them. Encourage interaction between you and your child. You may even have the answer all the time, but fostering an environment that allows your child to feel secure in asking sensitive questions will help them cope with the divorce.

Have a backup plan and be willing to adjust

Truly successful divorces have successful co-parents. You and your ex don’t have to love each other still or even like each other, but for the betterment of the child, respectful co-parenting can go a long way. That said, we all know that isn’t always the case; issues come up, arguments occur and resolutions need to be decided. 

In the best interests of the children, if it’s the other parent’s time to have the children and they no-show, have a backup plan, like a movie or trip to the mall or park. Allow your ex a certain amount of time, say a half-hour to an hour depending on the situation. When that time is up, move on. Explain to your child that you are sorry their other parent wasn’t able to make it, without letting them hear your disapproval and allow them to respond in a way they see fit.

Sometimes, hazards to get in the way. That’s a fact of life. Successful co-parents understand this, and if being late or excuses are not a chronic problem, they are willing to bend on occasion and adjust visitation accordingly. 

If no-showing does become constant, then addressing increased custody for one parent might have to be considered.

Love your children unconditionally

You are going through a hard time, and so are your children. During this time of unrest, don’t forget about them. Love will help ease the transition.