Children and divorce in Texas: Helping the kids cope

The divorce of their parents is likely to cause at least some level of upset for children, but there are things people can do to help their kids cope.

For any number of reasons, married couples sometimes make the difficult decision to split up. In fact, the Texas Department of State Health Services reports there were 71,988 divorces across the state in 2014. While this type of major life change may be challenging enough for the adults involved, it may be even more difficult for children to get through. There is no guaranteed way for parents to alleviate the upset their divorce may cause for their children, but there are some things they can do that may help their kids to better cope.

Provide reassurance

For many children, their parents are a source of stability in their lives. As such, should their parents divorce and begin living apart, it may feel that their world is being turned upside down. Often egocentric, kids may think their actions or thoughts brought about the split, which can lead to feelings of guilt and upset. Thus, it is important for people to assure their children they had nothing to do with their decision to divorce. Upon delivering the news, throughout the process and after a divorce is finalized, parents should offer their children reassurances that they both still love them, they are still a family and they will both continue to be a part of their lives.

Keep the lines of communication open

Immediately after learning their parents are getting divorced, children may be concerned in pragmatic questions, like who they will live with, what the visitation schedule will be and whether they will have to change schools. They may not, however, want to talk about how they are feeling. After the news has set in, kids may experience a range of emotions and reactions. Parents are advised to let their children express their feelings and encourage them to talk about them and their concerns when they are ready. This may help them recognize it is natural to feel how they are feeling, and let parents know if they might be having trouble adjusting.

Stay positive

In some cases, people who are getting divorced may have strong feelings of anger toward their spouses. Consequently, they may talk badly about them or their situation. Psychology Today warns that bad-mouthing each other in front of the children may cause a conflict of loyalty for them. Thus, it is important for parents to stay positive in front of their children and refrain from speaking negatively about their former partners or blaming them for the divorce when their kids are around.

Focus on the kids

Helping their kids to deal with this type of major life change includes parents continuing to work together to help their children maintain strong relationships with them both. However, anger, hurt feelings and other emotions at play at the end of a marriage may cause parents to lose sight of this. In order to provide their kids with the reassurance and stability they need during this difficult time, it is important for parents to set their feelings aside. They should do their best to work together to limit the upheaval their split causes for their kids, which includes developing an amicable custody and parenting time arrangement.

Seek legal assistance

Although Texas parents cannot completely alleviate the upset their divorce may cause for their kids, making the changes as smooth as possible may help them to ease their adjustment. Therefore, people with children who are planning to separate from their spouses may find it helpful to obtain legal representation. A lawyer may guide them through the process, and help negotiate on their behalf.