What Every Child Experiencing Divorce in Their Family Wants Their Parents to Know

What Every Child Experiencing Divorce in Their Family Wants Their Parents to Know

Divorce is complicated, and if there are children involved, the process becomes even more challenging. Children must cope with their entire lives changing, as their family is split, and they have to adjust to changed routines and living in two different homes. In addition, if there is still conflict between parents after the divorce, children are often caught in the middle. While divorce is never easy, you can reduce the negative impact on your children. Below, learn about the top things that children of divorce want you to know, so that their lives can continue to be as normal as possible in the face of major changes. 

They Don’t Want to be Pulled Between Their Two Parents

The issue that comes up perhaps more than any other with children of divorce is that they feel pulled between their two parents. If there is ongoing conflict or lack of communication, children feel as if they are caught in the middle attempting to manage the tension. Research has shown that children find this conflict to be difficult to manage, and they prefer when there is cooperation between parents. 


This means that it is important to address conflicts directly with your former spouse, instead of making children feel as if they have to mediate. Furthermore, getting on the same page and having consistent rules and routines is important, so children do not feel as if they have one set of expectations at dad’s house, and another expectation at mom’s house, which ultimately just creates more conflict. 

They Want to See Both Parents

When you’ve gone through a divorce and have significant conflict with your ex-spouse, it is easy to see them in a negative light. Without even realizing it, you might allow your negative viewpoints of them to affect the relationship they have with your children. For instance, you may find yourself assuming that if you dislike your children’s other parent, they also must have disdain for that parent. Or, if you are feeling conflicted about them spending time at their other parent’s house after the divorce, you may attempt to keep them from that parent. 


In reality, unless there is a danger to your children, such as in the case of physical abuse perpetrated by the other parent, it is critical that they continue to have a relationship with their other parent. In most cases, children want to see both of their parents. In fact, a study that assessed the experiences of children after divorce revealed that they want to be able to visit both parents’ homes, and a large body of research has suggested that joint physical custody benefits children in cases of divorce, especially if parents cooperate and have low levels of conflict. Finally, studies have shown that when children see both parents equally, they maintain stronger bonds with their fathers, which is beneficial in cases of divorce. 


You don’t have to become your former spouse’s best friend, but getting along for the children’s sake goes a long way. Your children shouldn’t feel as if they have to have your permission to love their other parent. Even if your romantic relationship didn’t work out, and your feelings toward your former spouse are negative, you can put forth the effort to have a cordial relationship with them, and cultivate a continuing bond between your children and your former spouse. 

They Need Your Help Adjusting

Children interviewed after their parents’ divorce report that it can be difficult to go back and forth between two homes. They may feel as if they can never settle down in one “home base,” or they may struggle with the difficulty of packing a bag every few days, and moving belongings back and forth between two homes. While this may be the case, keep in mind that there are still benefits associated with children visiting both homes. This includes a stronger bond with their fathers, as well as reduced stress for the mothers, who are able to share parenting duties, instead of facing the burden of single parenthood. 


There are benefits associated with living in two homes, but children still need your help adjusting. Recognize that it can be difficult for them to navigate the transition, and be sure to validate their feelings. It can be helpful to explain their schedule to them, so they know what to expect. Children also appreciate having personal belongings in both parents’ homes, so if they forget an item at one house, they have a backup at the other home when visiting. 

They Want Stability 

Parental divorce represents a big change in the lives of children, and they need stability and continuity as much as possible. This means not only continuing a bond with both parents after divorce; it also means maintaining connections to extended family on both sides. If one parent has sole custody or spends more time with the children, it can be easy for grandparents and family on the other parent’s side to fall by the wayside. Recognizing this possibility, it’s important to be intentional about allowing your children to continue their relationships with other family members post-divorce.


Other forms of continuity include attending the same school and continuing with their usual friendships and activities. If possible, it is helpful if children can continue to attend the same school and participate in the same activities they enjoyed prior to the divorce, so living close to your former spouse and within the same community is beneficial. You may be tempted to start life over somewhere new, but children fare better when they know they will have some continuity in their lives, so that divorce doesn’t mean leaving the life they knew entirely behind. 



Divorce comes with significant changes, and while some of the changes are inevitable, you can make an effort to ease the transition by providing as much continuity as possible in the lives of your children.  Beyond this, it is critical that you learn to co-parent cooperatively for the sake of the children. This means allowing them to have a bond with their other parent and extended family members, and working to reduce conflict, even if you have unresolved negative feelings toward your former spouse. If you’re struggling to manage post-divorce issues, such as communication, conflict, and children’s mental health, the family may benefit from seeking out counseling to learn helpful coping strategies. 






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