Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health While Going Through a Divorce

Supporting Your Child’s Mental Health While Going Through a Divorce

Going through a divorce is hard on everyone. It’s even considered one of the most stressful life events and can cause as much grief as the death of a loved one or losing a job. While it’s sometimes hard to put your own feelings and struggles aside, if you have children, it’s important to understand that they might be struggling just as much – in different ways.

Supporting your child’s mental health while going through a divorce is crucial to their well-being. Studies have shown that children of divorced parents tend to have higher rates of depression and anxiety, even if it shows up later in life.

So, what can you do to make sure you’re fostering mental wellness in your child, even when your own world feels upside down?

Maintain Honest Communication

Depending on your child’s age, you can talk about your divorce, what it means for them, and any changes that might happen in the coming months. Ideally, both you and your former spouse will be present for the initial conversation. However, if that’s not possible, make sure you keep the following in mind as you discuss what’s going on.

  • Always use age-appropriate language
  • Provide reassurance
  • Be prepared to answer questions
  • Don’t go into detail

Don’t badmouth or talk negatively about your ex in front of your child, no matter how contentious the divorce might be. You still have to co-parent with this person, and your child should never feel like they have to be in the middle of their parents or forced to choose one over another.

Help Them Adjust

Divorce often creates an adjustment period for everyone. Maybe you’ll have to move out of the marital home – the space your kids are used to. You might even have to move to a different town or state. Or, maybe you’ll be able to stay in one place, but your schedule will change because you’ll have to work more.

In most cases, parents enjoy some sort of custody arrangement with their kids following a divorce. That looks different for everyone. A court might assign an arrangement, or you can come up with one that works best for your family.

Whatever the case, living in two homes can be challenging for kids, on top of everything else they’re getting used to. Try to be on the same page with your ex about keeping things consistent. When it comes to helping your kids, it can be beneficial to create a monthly calendar for them. Whether it’s on their phone or a hard copy they can keep at both houses, a calendar will allow them to look at each week and determine where they’ll be staying.

Support Healthy Outlets

One of the best things you can do is support your children. That includes encouraging and supporting activities that interest them, as well as joining their interests as much as possible. Consider doing some fun home DIY projects with them to boost your bond, including:

  • Repurposing or painting outdoor furniture
  • Making a sandbox
  • Creating a tree swing
  • Building a wildlife feeder

If your child is interested in sports, go to every practice and game. If they have a gift for music, enroll them in guitar or piano lessons. It’s essential for them to have healthy outlets where they can process their emotions and have some consistency and repetition.

The potential psychological effects of divorce on children can be scary to think about. However, you can do your part to combat those effects by being honest, validating their feelings, and trying to keep their lives as normal as possible. Most importantly, understand that you’re all in this together. By putting your children first as you adjust and learn to co-parent, they’ll be more likely to adjust in healthy ways.

About the Author

My Headshot_Katie
Katie Brenneman is a passionate writer specialising in lifestyle, mental health, education, and fitness-related content.

When she isn't writing, you can find her with her nose buried in a book or hiking with her dog, Charlie. To connect with Katie, you can follow her on Twitter

Please follow and like us:

ANZMHA Podcast: Todd Wehr

Previous post

ANZMHA Podcast: Shane Daw ESM

Next post