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How to help young children cope with divorce

Divorce may come easily to you; maybe it's what you've wanted for years. Or, maybe it's tough, the end of a marriage you never honestly thought would end until it did. You have a lot of things you need to work through as you move forward with your life.

Either way, as a parent, you need to put your children first. Remember that this is probably difficult for them either way. They may feel abandoned, sad, confused or even angry. Young children may not understand exactly what is happening or why, and this helplessness makes it that much harder.

There are ways you can help them cope with the change and adjust, however. Here are a few important ideas to consider:

  1. Let your children talk. Let them ask questions. If they need to, let them vent. Give them time to talk to you and express exactly how they feel. Be there for them and support them while they do it. Many times, just talking through something makes it feel far easier.
  2. Tell them that you love them, and so does your ex. You know that you love them, so much. But children find this harder to believe at times, and they need constant reminders. Make it clear. Tell them over and over again. Knowing that you're both still the same loving parents, married or not, can help them.
  3. Never blame them. This almost goes without saying, but you should not ever blame them for the end of the marriage. Take it one step further; go out of your way to explain that this was your choice and your spouse's choice and that they had nothing to do with it. Children may harbor these fears silently, so don't be afraid to address them.
  4. Ask questions. If kids do not want to talk, open up and communicate, go to them with questions. Ask how they're doing. Get involved. They may be hesitant to talk at first, but you can often get them going and then they'll really say what they feel. It's therapeutic.
  5. Figure out a custody schedule that works for everyone, not just for you. Talk to your kids about it. Consider your ex's needs. Ask the kids what they want to do. Don't just look at your work schedule and focus on yourself. A lot of the issue for children is feeling like the divorce disrupts their lives. The right custody schedule helps to limit this and keeps both parents involved.

As you can see, the key is to put the kids first. Make decisions that focus on them. As you look into your own legal rights, find out how you can use them to support your kids at every turn.

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