When their parent’s divorce, a child’s age, their home environment, cultural factors, and their mental health, among a host of other factors, will determine how they’ll react to, cope, and recover from their parents separating.

Sometimes married couples hold off divorcing until their children are no longer minors, so they don’t have to deal with the toll that divorce enacts on their young children. This choice isn’t necessarily protecting the child’s well-being if they are living in an unhappy household during their formative years.

If you do decide to divorce while the children are still living at home, there are some steps a parent can take to ease the negative feelings that divorce would toss your child’s way, like making sure your child knows that they are loved. If you are a parent that shows your love through actions more than affection, it may be time to switch it up. Other tips include:

  1. Not sugarcoating the situation: Shielding your child from the reality of divorce proceedings or the mistakes of your co-parent will have increasingly negative consequences later when they find out.
  2. Have a plan for when your ex screws up: Some of us may be close, but none of us are entirely perfect. If your ex screws up, like no-showing to pick up the kid, have a backup plan. The child will likely be let down but will recover. A trip to the ice cream store or mini golf can quickly lift a child’s spirits. Mistakes happen – It’s when they become constant when the problem arises.
  3. Encourage communication: Your child(ren) will have many questions about what’s going on. Allow them to ask and also allow them to vent. Teach them that it’s okay to challenge the status quo respectfully.
  4. Be able to adapt: We all have busy schedules, and children thrive on steadiness and consistency, but sometimes events or meetings cannot be changed. This will occur with you and your ex. You have to be willing to be flexible in a successful co-parenting relationship.
  5. Leve your kids out of it: Though it’s best to try, there really is no way to shield your child from every argument you and your husband may have when married. When divorced, it’s easier to shield your children from the spats between you ad your ex, and you should. Exposing children to ongoing parental issues could harm them later in life. 

Successful co-parents will argue from time to time, but teamwork and reliability are critical to maintaining an amicable relationship between you and your ex.

To help your child cope and recover from divorce, you must also be in healthy place. Some things adults can do to manage and improve divorce-related stress and anxiety is to vent to someone you trust (make sure they aren’t related or close with your ex), eat healthily, and find an outlet that will allow you to control your emotions. Kickboxing, boxing, art, music, or general exercise are suitable activities to quell pent up emotions.