What parents can do to help children adjust to divorce

Illinois children might struggle with their parents' divorce, but there are things parents can do to help them adjust. They can help children build resilience during this time.

Since a divorce brings so many changes to children's lives, it is important for parents to try to keep as many things the same as possible. For example, even those who have different parenting styles may be able to agree on certain expectations for children. If parents do not agree in all areas, as long as the child is not harmed, it is usually best for them to avoid interfering. Children who are upset about a parent's decision can be encouraged to discuss it with them.

It is also important for parents to answer their children's questions with honesty and to reassure them that they are loved. However, they need to balance that honesty with avoiding sharing inappropriate information with the children or badmouthing the other parent. Children should not be made to feel they are in the middle between their parents.

When a divorce results in one parent living far away, one way to maintain a connection is by choosing activities to do together such as reading a book or watching a sporting event at the same time. If one parent is completely uninvolved, the other parent should still avoid speaking negatively about that parent in the child's presence.

Negotiating child custody and visitation can be emotional for parents, but they should try to do so with the child's best interests in mind just as a judge would. The child's schedule, how far parents live from the school, and who is responsible for getting the child to extracurricular activities should all be considered when parents create the custody and visitation schedule. Children might split their time equally between households or may spend some weekends or weekdays with the noncustodial parent.

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