Helping Pennsylvania children cope with the end of a marriage

Experiencing a divorce can be difficult for children, but there are things that parents can do to help ease the transition.

For children in Harrisburg, and elsewhere, having their parents divorce is often a trying experience. In some cases, the effects of this major life change may be lasting. Although dealing with the end of a marriage will have its challenges, there are things that parents can do to help their children cope with their divorce.

Breaking the news

Often, parents try to hide what is going on from their children in an effort to protect them. However, this may actually add to the anxiety and fear kids may experience. Children are perceptive, and they often know that something is wrong, even if they have not been told. As such, it is advisable that parents tell their kids that they are planning to divorce as soon as they are sure of their plans.

Tell all of the kids together

Sometimes, couples have children of different ages and maturity levels. As such, they may feel it best to tell the older kids, while shielding the younger ones. This is not always recommended, however, as it places a heavy burden on the children who have been told to keep the secret from their siblings. Therefore, it is suggested that parents tell all of their children at the same time.

Expect a mix of emotions

Just as adults react differently to significant life changes, including divorce, so too do children. Thus, the Mayo Clinic recommends that parents be prepared for mixed reactions from their kids, in particular after the news has time to settle in. Children may experience grief, anxiety, anger and any other number of emotions. It is advisable for parents to allow their children to express their feelings, and to seek outside assistance if necessary.

Be prepared to talk about it

When parents first break the news to their kids, they may have questions and concerns. This may include wondering why their parents cannot stay together, if it is their fault, or how the child custody and visitation arrangement will work, among others. Although they may still be unsure of all of the details, or it may be hard to talk about, parents should be ready to talk to their children and answer their questions. If there is something they are not sure of yet, it is okay for parents to be honest with their children and let them know they are still working it all out. Doing so may help reduce their anxieties over the pending changes, as well as encourage them to openly communicate how they are feeling.

Keep the kids out of the fight

Particularly leading up to and during a divorce, it is common for people to have feelings of animosity toward their soon-to-be exes. As such, arguments and heated conversations may be a regular occurrence. However, Parents Magazine advises parents to refrain from fighting in front of their children. This may impact a child's relationship with one or both parents, or further add to their upset. It is also recommended that people avoid bad mouthing their former spouses in front of the kids.

Working with an attorney

When divorces in Pennsylvania, and other localities, are drawn out, it may make the transition harder for the couples, as well as their children. As such, people who are considering ending their marriages may benefit from obtaining legal representation. An attorney may help guide them through the process, and negotiate settlements on their behalf. This may aid families in reaching amicable resolutions so that they are able to move forward.


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