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Divorce: Ways to help children adapt

In California and beyond, many parents worry about their children. For some, a major life change such as divorce causes certain issues to surface. Children need coping skills as much or even more than parents who are navigating divorce.

It is important for children to understand that they do not have to take sides when their parents decide they no longer wish to be married to each other. Adults can help children by encouraging them to maintain active relationships with both parents. It is also a good idea to explain to children_that they are not responsible for resolving adult issues, and divorce is definitely an adult issue.

Many kids blame themselves for their parents' divorce. It does not help matters much if a parent uses children against an ex, such as complaining that the co-parent never helps drive the kids anywhere or leaves all parental obligations up to him or her. Children who overhear such comments may internalize the problem and believe they are at fault for their parents' relationship troubles. Children need to know that it is okay for them to talk about their feelings. If they are upset that their parents are splitting up or if they feel worried, sad or afraid, it is better to share their thoughts than to bottle up their emotions.

Parents can encourage kids to share their feelings by ensuring them that they will not be upset with them for doing so. Divorce is never easy and can sometimes be highly stressful, especially if parents disagree about child-related issues. A concerned parent can help children cope with situational stress by reaching out for additional support as needed from teachers, counselors, relatives or other family advocates. Any California parent who does not wish to try to resolve a particular legal issue alone may also seek support by requesting a meeting with an experienced family law attorney.


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