Ten Tips To Help Your
Children Transition Through Divorce
Each year, more than 1 million children experience the divorce of their parents.
Divorce rates peaked in 1979-1981 at 5.3 per 1000 persons and decreased by 1995
to 4.4 per 1000 persons. Approximately 50% of first marriages and 60% of second
marriages end in divorce (Cohen, American Academy of Pediatrics). Moreover, the
American Psychological Association notes that children of stepfamilies face
higher risks of emotional and behavioral problems. Scary statistics, however,
there are things you can do to help your children during a time of transition.
It is important to use age appropriate explanations. Children often believe they
are the cause of divorce or they can fix it. These ten tips will help your
1. Never force your child to take sides or involve your child in an argument.
2. Don't criticize or fight with you ex in front of your child. If your child
overhears you arguing explain that sometimes people say hurtful things when they
are upset, however there are better ways to communicate your feelings. Discuss
your concerns with your ex when your child is not present. It is not helpful to
bring them into your arguments or adult discussions.
3. Respect the relationship they have with the other parent. It is important to
let your children show their love to both parents and spend time with each
without feeling guilty. Provide your child with reassurance that both their
parents still love them even though they may only be living with one parent at a
4. You children know more than you think they know- so talk with them early on
5. Create safety by listening and trying to understand their point of view.
Don't try to rescue, overcompensate (by doing or giving them things), or problem
solve. The best thing you can to is listen as they express their feelings,
6. Be open about what is happening without giving too much unnecessary
information. For example, "Your father and I are having problems and we need to
separate because we cannot get along with each other".
7.Let you child know that it is not their fault and they cannot fix the problem.
8. Do not blame your ex-spouse. This creates a problem with alliances. Your
child needs you to model healthy boundaries so they do not become co-dependent,
feeling like they need to be responsible for another's well being.
9. Create a schedule. Children crave consistency; it is the way that they feel
psychologically and physically safe. Keep a routine, even amongst the
transitioning between households.
10. Let them know they are loved and you are willing to listen and try your best
to answer questions they have.
by Laura JJ Dessauer, M.S.
Laura JJ Dessauer, MS,
ATR-BC, LCAT, the founder of the Creativity Queen, LLC, is a Board Certified
Creative Arts Therapist and Certified Parent and Teen Coach. Laura brings 20
years of experience working with families, children and teens in over 18 school
districts. The Creativity Queen, LLC, Winner of SCORE Small Business of the
Year, offers individual art therapy sessions and creative problem solving
programs for both children and adults. For FREE bi-monthly tips to live a
Superfabulicious Life visit the Creativity Queen at