Handling divorce with children

Valissa Milanovich
Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau

Divorce is difficult for all family members. Children who find themselves in the midst of a divorce usually have many questions and concerns.

Divorce does not hurt children. How parents handle the divorce and co-parenting can be harmful.

Healthy YouthHere are some helpful tips to have a kid-healthy divorce:

-Tell children the divorce is not their fault and they are not to blame. Tell them even if they do not ask: They may be thinking about it.

It is important for kids to know that divorce is a decision made by adults, that they did not do anything wrong or cause one parent to leave.

-Answer children’s questions honestly and age-appropriately. If you do not have an answer (such as what the parenting schedule will be), say you are working on it. Share only those details that are appropriate for the child’s developmental stage. Six-year-olds, for example, need not know the details of infidelity.

-Allow children to express their feelings. Encourage them to do this respectfully, and be willing to listen. Kids need to know they can share how they feel about the situation and how it is affecting them.

-Refrain from speaking unfavorably about the other parent. This is hard!

Parents are often angry during a divorce and have strong feelings. Save these feelings for a friend, adult family member or therapist. It is important for children to make up their own minds and have their own feelings towards their parents.

-Do not fight with the other parent in front of the children. This is emotionally damaging for children and shows them their parents are not united in parenting. Presenting a united front is most important.

Marriages and other couple relationships may not always work out, but that does not mean a healthy co-parenting relationship cannot take place.

If you know a child who would benefit from counseling due to divorce, Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau has day and evening appointments available.

Those experiencing divorce, separation, co-parenting and blended families can benefit from counseling.

The Lakes Area Youth Service Bureau is located at 244 N. Lake St. in Forest Lake.

Many insurance plans are accepted, and a sliding scale fee is available for families who qualify.

Call 651-464-3685 to schedule an appointment.