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Psychology Today Weighs In on “Big Three Questions” about Children and Divorce


There is no doubt that divorce is no easy topic. However, for children, the topic of divorce can be an especially scary one, with many questions about why, feelings of guilt and fault, and with the family unit splitting up and changing in ways a child never imagined. For parents, the thought of a child going through a divorce can be heartbreaking, and it can be tempting to stay together just to avoid the potential impacts on a child’s young life. In short, there are a lot of considerations for married individuals who are thinking about divorce when young children are in the picture. But should parents stay together “just for the kids?” How can a parent break the news of a divorce to a child? And after a separation, what is next for the kids? These are all questions that Psychology Today tackles in its January 19 article “Children and Divorce: The Big Three Questions. Here we examine the guidance from Psychology Today.

Staying Married “Just for the Kids”

According to Psychology Today, children whose parents divorce are “more likely than others to experience distress, anger, anxiety, and academic problems and to participate in disruptive behaviors, substance use, and other forms of risk-taking.” However, “most children whose parents split up are resilient and, after a year or two, exhibit none of these problems.” Accordingly, while Psychology Today indicates that children may have short-term problems when it comes to their parent’s divorce, “the vast majority rebound after a year or two.” In addition, “children can reap long-term benefits from seeing their parents decide in favor of happiness and fulfillment.” Thus, ultimately, the experts believe that “if you’re wondering about staying together for the kids, don’t.”

Breaking the News of a Divorce to Your Kids

Psychology Today advises that divorcing parents should tell their kids about the divorce “as soon as the decision is final.” According to the article, children are very perceptive and secrecy about a divorce can do more damage to a child than just breaking the news. Psychology Today recommends choosing a good time to talk as a family unit, and not when family members might be hungry, tired, or trying to rush to do something else. The message about the divorce should be “simple and practical”, and should not serve as a time to blame the other parent, but should be conducted as an “informational session”.

Kids and Separation

According to Psychology Today, getting through a separation with kids is a chance for parents to “rise to the occasion.” Children can and do get through separations with better coping skills and strengths. Psychology Today suggests keeping routines and schedules as consistent as possible, and to maintain old routines and schedules as much as possible. Being patient with your ex and with yourself, is also a rule of thumb, according to the article, when getting through a separation with children in the picture.

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