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How to Navigate Divorce While Keeping Kids as the Focus

Divorce is a journey that the children involved did not ask to take. That is why is it so important that parents keep focused on their kids and work together to navigate the divorce or separation path with compassion and open, honest communication. Above all, kids need to be reassured that family is forever, despite the changes they are experiencing.

Kids are smart. They know that there are issues at home long before it reaches the point of divorce or separation. As a team, parents should begin by calling the kids together and calmly telling them about the changes ahead. Parents need to accept responsibility for the decision and must reassure the kids that it is not their fault. Modeling collaborative behavior and introducing the idea of a two-home family is a good place to start as it sends the message that while the kids may split time between the homes of the two parents, they are still a family.

There is no such thing as perfection in navigating a divorce or separation, but effective co-parenting, where the parents work as a collaborative and cohesive team, ensures the best outcomes for the kids.  Co-parents must present a united front, treating each other with kindness and respect, and need to understand that it is OK for the kids to be upset.  Above all, it's imperative to keep the lines of communication between co-parents and children -- open and ongoing.  Remember that kids are always listening, so parents need to be careful about what is said.

In some cases of divorce or separation, therapy for the children might be helpful, depending upon how they respond to the news. “Every child is different," said Common Sense Parenting expert, Bridget Barnes. “Some kids are going to need therapy and others are not, but it's always good to have someone to talk to other than your parents."

It's OK if kids are sad, but parents who notice a consistent drop in a child's school or home behavior should take note, as these are potential red flags that indicate the child might need help from a professional counselor.  A call to the Boys Town Hotline (800) 448-3000 also is a great way for kids to reach out. 

 Keeping your children at the center of your life, while modeling a collaborative two-home family approach, is the key to a successful adjustment to the changes associated with divorce.​