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​​​​​​By: Kimberly Haugen, Ph.D., L.P., & Julie Almquist, M.A., LIMHP​​

Approximately half of all marriages end in div​orce. Considering this statistic, countless children are impacted when their pa​rents divorce. Some areas of children’s lives that are affected include where they live, what school they attend, what types of activities they can participate in and their contact with friends and family members. Despite these changes, most children whose parents divorce are well-adjusted, and it helps when children can continue to have regular time with both parents.​

This is often a difficult time for parents and children alike. But there are steps parents can take to minimize the impact of their divorce. Here are some tips for how you can help your children, and yourself, through this transition:

  • Rely on friends and family for the support you’ll need.
  • Avoid dating for several months following the separation to give you and your children time to adapt to the changes.
  • Avoid arguing with or speaking negatively about the other parent in front of your children. Schedule times to talk when the children aren’t present, and don’t criticize the other parent.
  • Communicate with each other to make necessary plans and arrangements; this isn’t a child’s responsibility.
  • Let your children be children. Don’t place adult responsibilities on them or confide in them as though they are adults.
  • Financially support your children to maintain their standard of living.
  • Have consistent rules and routines for your children in your home.
  • Consider mediation, which involves parents working with a neutral third-party to assist with negotiations. Mediation is associated with better outcomes for children and families, when compared to court involvement.

There are a number of supports available to help you and your children through these changes. A good parenting resource on this topic is Dr. Robert Emery’s book, The Truth about Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions So You and Your Children Can Thrive. Boys Town has trained counselors who are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer support. If you would like assistance, call 1-800-448-3000. If you notice drastic changes in your child, consider contacting his or her school counselor or asking your child’s physician for a referral to a mental health professional.​