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How to Minimize the Negative Impact of Divorce on Your Kids

Updated: Jun 20

By: Jarbath Pena Law Group

Mother and child sitting together and looking at computer screen while smiling

Divorce is a challenging and often painful process for all involved, but its impact on children can be particularly profound. In Florida, as in many places, the emotional, psychological, and sometimes physical toll on children can be significant. However, with mindful strategies and compassionate approaches, parents and caregivers can help to minimize the negative effects of divorce on their children. This blog aims to offer practical advice and insights to help navigate this difficult journey.


At the Jarbath Peña Law Group, we know Florida divorce law well. We also know this is a sensitive area and that you want to protect your children, so we strive to help in all aspects of your divorce. Today, we will discuss some practical things you can do to make this process easier for your kids.


Understanding the Impact of Divorce on Kids

Divorce can create a whirlwind of emotions for children, including confusion, sadness, anger, and fear. These emotions may stem from changes in their daily routines, the potential loss of time with one parent, and anxiety about the future. Divorce can impact a child’s mental health because they often internalize these changes, sometimes believing they are to blame for the divorce. Such beliefs can lead to long-term emotional scars if not addressed properly.According to the National Library of Medicine, children typically experience the following when their parents are divorcing:


  • Behavior changes,

  • Academic difficulties, and

  • Mental health changes such as the onset of depression.


Parents who talk openly and frequently with their kids during this challenging time can help sidestep some of these issues. Also,It’s important to recognize that the degree to which these changes occur can depend on your child’s temperament, personality, support system, and their age. Let’s look at how children in varying developmental stages can be impacted by divorce.


Minimizing Impact of Divorce on

Babies 

Father kissing baby in sepia tone

Although babies cannot know what is happening conceptually or emotionally, they can feel the stress of parental separation. Some things you may notice as your divorce progresses is that your infant:

  • Becomes fussier than usual,

  • Is harder to console,

  • Is prone to greater degrees of distress when separated from parents,

  • Becomes more clingy,

  • Becomes anxious,

  • Has a harder time trying to get to sleep,

  • Shows a greater distrust of strangers, and

  • Their developmental milestones may begin to slow or even regress.

During this or any other tumultuous time, babies will require even higher amounts of consolation from you and their other caregivers to help ensure that they continue to feel loved and safe.


Minimizing Impact of Divorce on

Toddlers and Preschoolers

Elementary school children reviewing workbook and writing on desk while sitting in chair

Toddlers and preschoolers are beginning to develop their understanding of relationships and family dynamics. Many young children tend to blame themselves for the divorce or come to believe that they can bring their parents back together. This age group may exhibit separation anxiety, tantrums, and regressions such as bedwetting. To help minimize the impact of divorce on kids in this age group, it is essential to provide clear, simple explanations and reassurance that they are not at fault for the separation and that they are still very loved by both mom and dad.


Minimizing Impact of Divorce on

Elementary School Age


Children in elementary school have a more developed sense of cause and effect but may still struggle to understand the reasons for the divorce. They might feel rejected by the parent who has moved out or become anxious about future uncertainties. These children may display academic problems, social withdrawal, or clinginess. To help minimize the impact of divorce on kids in this age group, open communication and emotional support are key to help them adjust.


Minimizing Impact of Divorce on Preteens

Middle school children are dealing with the complexities of growing up. When you add divorce to this equation, they can be deeply affected. They might feel torn between parents, experience anger, or exhibit behavioral issues at school and home. It is important for parents to foster an environment where children feel comfortable expressing their feelings and to maintain a consistent routine.


Minimizing Impact of Divorce on Teens

Teenagers are more capable of understanding the nuances of divorce but may still experience significant emotional turmoil. They might feel pressure to take sides, experience a decline in academic performance, or engage in risky behaviors. Teens need clear, honest communication and emotional support to help them navigate these challenges. To help minimize the impact of divorce on kids in this age group, encourage healthy coping mechanisms and provide stability. These tools can make a significant difference.


How Do I Make Divorce Easier on My Kids?


Effective Communication Is Key


One of the most important steps parents can take is to communicate effectively with their children about the divorce. This involves:


  • Honesty and Transparency. Explain the situation in age-appropriate terms. Children of all ages need to understand that the divorce is not their fault and that both parents still love them.


  • Consistent Reassurance. Regularly reassure children that both parents will continue to be involved in their lives. This helps to alleviate fears of abandonment and instability.


  • Open Dialogue. Encourage children to express their feelings and ask questions. Be patient and listen actively to their concerns.


This may sound simple, but it is easy for parents who are distracted by divorce issues to forget how important it is to be there to listen to their kids. It takes a little work and dedication, but letting your kids know they have someplace to go to talk openly about what they are experiencing can go a long way in helping them cope.


Prioritize Stability and Routine


Children thrive on routine and predictability, which can be disrupted during a divorce. To minimize this disruption:


  • Maintain Consistent Schedules. Try to keep daily routines as consistent as possible, including meal times, bedtimes, and extracurricular activities. This is especially true for younger children.


  • Create a Co-Parenting Plan. Develop a detailed co-parenting plan that outlines visitation schedules, holiday arrangements, and how decisions will be made. This helps children know what to expect and reduces uncertainty.


  • Minimize Conflict. Avoid arguing or discussing legal matters in front of the children. High levels of parental conflict can exacerbate children’s stress and anxiety.

These steps can help your children acclimate to their new circumstances.


Co-Parenting Strategies


Effective co-parenting is essential to minimize the negative impact of divorce on children. Strategies include:


  • Collaborative Parenting. Work together to make decisions regarding the children’s education, health, and extracurricular activities.


  • Respect and Communication. Maintain respectful communication with the other parent. Use tools like co-parenting apps to manage schedules and communicate about the children without conflict.


  • Unified Front. Present a united front on major decisions and rules. Consistency between households helps children feel more secure.


Striving to cooperatively co-parent is worth the effort, as it assures kids that mom and dad still love them and are looking out for their best interests.


The Role of Extended Family and Community

Grandparents hugging kid on couch

Extended family and community support can play a significant role in helping children adjust to divorce.


  • Involvement of Extended Family. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other extended family members can provide additional stability and support. Encourage their involvement in the children’s lives.


  • Community Resources. Use community resources such as school counselors, community centers, and religious organizations that offer support for families going through divorce.


  • Extracurricular Activities. Encourage children to participate in sports, arts, and other extracurricular activities to maintain a sense of normalcy and provide an outlet for their emotions.

School aged children playing instruments while sitting on the floor with teacher looking on

We are social creatures. If you encourage socialization and activities (while not overwhelming them), it can help keep kids out of their heads and engaged in living their lives despite what their parents are going through.


Emotional Support and Professional Help

Emotional support is crucial for children navigating the changes brought about by divorce. This can be provided through:


  • Parental Support. Both parents should provide emotional support, offering extra attention and affection to help children feel secure.


  • Counseling and Therapy. Consider professional counseling for children to help them process their emotions. A therapist can provide a safe space for children to express their feelings and develop coping strategies.


  • Support Groups. Enroll children in support groups where they can meet peers who are experiencing similar situations. This can reduce feelings of isolation and provide a sense of community.


Do not be afraid to reach out and get whatever help you need.


Conclusion


Divorce is undeniably challenging, but with thoughtful and proactive strategies, parents in Florida can significantly mitigate its negative impact on their children.

Meet the team, attorney Fritznie Jarbath and Melisa Pena

By prioritizing effective communication, stability, emotional support, and cooperative co-parenting, parents can help their children navigate this difficult transition and emerge resilient and well-adjusted. 


Remember, the Jarbath Peña Law Group is here to help you reach your goal of ensuring that—despite the changes in family dynamics—your children continue to feel loved, secure, and supported. Call or contact us online today! We are happy to help get your family started on the road to recovery.


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