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What parents can do to help their kids during a divorce

The numbers concerning divorce here in the U.S. are not always 100 percent clear. While some estimates say nearly 50 percent of all marriages will end in divorce, others say the number is actually closer to 40 percent, with the divorce rate increasing with each subsequent marriage.

While this range of figures is certainly eye opening on its own, consider also that it means that potentially half of children here in the U.S. will see their parents' marriages end in divorce.  

What makes this fact all the more unfortunate is that divorce is seldom easy on children of any age, sometimes resulting in everything from emotional and social problems to behavioral and even health issues.

"The stress factor is horrible, even for kids in their 20s ... It can disrupt friendships, schooling, sleep, eating patterns," said one life coach who specializes in divorce. "Kids feel very insecure."

Given this potential fallout from a broken marriage, is there anything that parents can do to make life easier on their children post-divorce? 

Make the transition as easy as possible for them

Experts indicate that it can take children anywhere from two to three years to adjust to their new post-divorce life. Accordingly, they recommend that parents do everything in their power to ease the transition to two new homes, including introducing a degree of consistency.

This means parents should consider setting uniform routines and expectations covering everything from bedtimes and curfews to grades and chores. They also recommend minimizing the amount of packing and moving children will have to perform as they move between homes and encouraging participation in an ongoing activity (sports, music, etc.).

This predictability, experts reason, goes a long way toward ensuring that children thrive in their new surroundings.

Be mindful of your behavior

A divorce can be one of the most painful experiences that a person will ever have to endure, causing a wide range of emotions from anger to sadness. While there is nothing wrong with this, experts say that parents must ensure that these emotions are not manifested around their children.

This means minimizing conflict with the other parent or, at the very least, keeping otherwise levelheaded arguments confined to areas/times where the kids are not present. It also means resisting the urge to speak poorly about the other parent in front of children or, even worse, having them act as messengers.

To be continued ...

Those with concerns about divorce or divorce-related issues like child custody should remember that an experienced legal professional can provide both the guidance and the support they need during otherwise difficult times.

Source: The Desert News, "Preventing broken marriages from breaking kids," Lois Collins, April 2, 2014

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