Keeping your kids healthy through the divorce process

Mother hugging daughter

Keeping your kids healthy through the divorce process as a couple, making the decision to divorce or separate is a serious undertaking, especially if children are in the picture.  Kids across the globe go through the painful process of divorce and separation along with their parents, experiencing an array of emotions they have not felt before.  While the kids had no part in making this decision, the weight of a divorce is carried heavily by parents and their children alike.  Each child will react differently to this news, though feelings of anger, confusion, stress and uncertainty are all normal.   As a parent, one must take measures to lessen this burden for the family’s youngest members so that they may continue to live healthy lives.

A difficult first step to take in acting out this process is to share the news with your children.  In the best case scenario, you and your co-parent will tell your children together.  This will show your kids that while you are choosing to live apart, you will all remain as part of one family.  During this conversation, be direct and honest with your kids while being mindful to leave the bigger, harsher details out.  It is healthy and normal for your kids to have something to say about the situation, so you must be prepared for this.  Younger children may not have much to say about the situation, but older kids may have more questions, for which you and your co-parent should be ready to address in the most amicable way possible.  The worst thing you could do in this moment is to get into an argument with your co-parent in front of your children, so do your best to stay calm and confident.  Finally, though you may think it goes without saying, you need to remind your children several times over that your decision to split up as a couple has nothing to do with them.  As the news of their parents splitting up will weigh on your kids for some time, constant reminders that it was not their fault will help to keep your kids healthy both mentally and physically throughout the overall process of separation.

Once the news is out in the open and changes start manifest into reality, keep your children’s health as your first priority.  With a million things happening all at once, it will be easy to get wrapped up in the details, like dividing assets or finding a new place to live.  These are all important things that deserve your attention, but you cannot leave your children’s health by the wayside, especially now.  Keep their routine as normal as possible as you carve out your custody plan.  Working this plan out more quickly will be better for your children in the long run, as dragging out this process can greatly affect their emotional health.

Your children will evolve emotionally as the process continues, so it will be important to monitor their mental and physical health into the future.  Let other adults in your child’s life know about what is going on so that they may keep an eye on your child and provide extra support when they are out of the house.  Beyond other family members, these adults may include their teachers, school counselor, or sports coach.  If you notice changes in your child’s health that are concerning to you, consider taking your child to speak with a counselor or another mental health professional.  Your child may find relief in speaking with someone new whom they can feel safe to share their feelings with.

All in all, you and your children will make it through this difficult time, one way or another.  The ideal outcome for any family in this situation should benefit parents and kids alike, and should keep everyone in a healthy state, emotionally and physically.   Taking steps now to keep your children happy and healthy will go a long way for everyone into the future.


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.