When parents divorce: 3 tips to support children’s mental health
Divorce can impact our emotional health. It is important to know that this is true not just for the adults who are going through a divorce, but also for our children. We have tools that can help better ensure a smooth and healthy transition to post-divorce life for you and your children.
If you as parents are going through a divorce, know that your children are not alone. A publication in Pediatrics in Review highlighted by the National Institutes of Health states 40 to 70% of children experience the divorce of their parents. This is not uncommon and we can help our children move forward and thrive after the divorce.
How can we address our children’s mental health when we as parents get divorced?
When building this co-parenting relationship, three steps we as parents can take to help build our children’s mental health include:
- Honesty. Do not shy away from conversations with your children. Be open about the fact that some things will change during the divorce but reiterate that the children are loved and both parents are there for them. It is also important not to speak ill of the other parent or of the details of the divorce action. Remember, this child is connected to both of you and may take ill comments about the other parent personally.
- Availability. Do your best to be available to the children. This could include dedicated time or just making the most of the small moments that present themselves throughout the day.
- Assistance. We cannot do it all. Reach out to a confidant, therapist or mental health professional if you or your children are feeling frustrated, depressed or anxious. It is important to model these steps for our children, so they see that we value mental health or to address any issues your children may be having.
Although judges will look to the best interests of the children, parents can further help to better ensure a child custody and placement (visitation) plan that achieves these goals for their children by drafting a plan for their own, specific situation. Working with the other parent to protect your children is the best way to ensure that they survive a divorce with minimal impact on their emotional and mental health.