Helping Children Navigate Parents’ Divorce

A sad kid, with parents in the background having an argument
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• Maintain constant communication with children to help them adjust to the changes brought on by divorce.

• Set up a parenting plan and focus on co-parenting goals to provide consistency and stability for children.

• Be respectful of each other, patient when adjusting, and seek professional help if needed.

• Support children by providing them with a safe space to express their feelings and learn healthy ways of coping. 

A divorce is one of the most difficult experiences for a family to go through. It can be especially hard on children, who likely don’t understand why their family is changing. That’s why it’s important to take steps to help ease the transition and ensure that your children feel supported during a divorce.

Maintain Constant Communication

Being able to talk about the divorce and any changes it brings helps children adjust. It’s important to be honest with them and consider their age and emotional maturity. Here are ways to navigate conversations with children:

Explaining the Situation

One of the first things you should do when approaching a divorce with children explains what is happening in an age-appropriate way. Even young children will understand if you keep your explanation simple and honest, focusing on their parents no longer living together but still loving them very much.

Encouraging Open Communication

It’s important to ensure children know they can talk openly about their feelings and ask questions without fear of judgment or being reprimanded. Ensure both parents can answer questions and provide emotional support as needed. This can also be supplemented by outside resources such as counselors, support groups, or books written for kids going through a divorce.

Ensuring Stability

No matter how chaotic life may become during a divorce, children need to have stability in their lives as much as possible. Keep school routines consistent and aim for minimal disruptions at home when possible—such as regular bedtimes and mealtimes—so your child doesn’t feel like everything in their life has been upended at once.

A hand holding the hand of a small kid, picking after school

Focus on Co-Parenting

Co-parenting is a difficult but crucial part of helping children adjust to divorce. Both parents must maintain a united front where kids are concerned, setting aside any disagreements and never speaking negatively about the other parent in front of their children. To effectively co-parent, it may help to do the following:

Set Up a Parenting Plan

This plan should outline the time each parent spends with their children, who the children will live with, and other important details. Additionally, it should be flexible to make adjustments as needed.

Focus on Co-Parenting Goals

The parenting goals should provide consistency, stability, and warmth in the child’s life. It should also provide boundaries and be agreed upon by both parents. The goal should always be to work together, even when the parents no longer share a living space.

Be Patient with Adjustments

Adjusting expectations and being patient as your children learn how to navigate life after the divorce is important. Children can experience different emotions, such as sadness, anger, or confusion—all normal feelings during this difficult time. Be there to support them and take time to talk about their feelings.

Be Respectful of Each Other

Both parents need to respect each other when it comes to decisions made about the children. Don’t put your child in the middle of disagreements, and ensure they don’t feel guilty or need to choose sides.

Seek Professional Help

When things are difficult, seeking outside help from a professional may be helpful. They can help you find ways to effectively co-parent and manage any conflicts between parents. The following professionals can help you navigate your unique situation:


If you’re having issues with the parenting plan or other legal matters, seeking the help of a lawyer is advised. A lawyer specializing in family law can provide advice and assist in negotiations while helping to make sure your rights are being respected. They can answer any questions and guide you through the legal process.

A happy kid with parents seeking legal counsel on the background


A mediator can be beneficial if your family is having difficulty resolving disputes. They are a neutral third party who can help facilitate conversations between both parents and help develop solutions that will benefit all parties involved.


If a child is struggling to process their parents’ divorce, finding an experienced counselor or therapist can help. A professional can provide a safe space for children to express their feelings and learn healthy ways of coping.


A therapist can provide insight into how your children are feeling and provide solutions to any conflicts that may arise between parents. They can also provide emotional support and help both parties navigate their relationship with the other healthily.

A divorce can be a difficult and emotional experience for everyone involved. With the right support and guidance, however, you can help your children adjust to the changes and meet their needs. By taking these steps, you can help your children cope with the changes brought on by divorce.

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