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What does your child most need in the wake of your divorce?

If you and your spouse have opted to go your separate ways, one or both of you likely initiated that shift because it had become apparent that you may be healthier and happier apart than together. Your child may not understand this rationale and may not accept it. Your child may be struggling in a variety of ways with your decision to divorce. However, there are things that you can do to meet your child’s best interests during and in the wake of divorce, even if he or she does not understand the value or potential impact of your efforts.

Regardless of how your child custody arrangements have been structured, it is important that you make consistent efforts to let your child know that he or she is both loved and accepted. Children tend to root their identities in their families from an early age. When the family structure shifts, children and teens may question themselves as well as their family stability. Ensuring that your child knows that he or she is loved and accepted as an individual is therefore critically important.

It is also of the utmost importance that you assure your child more than once that he or she is not the reason why you sought a divorce. Children tend to internalize stress to a certain extent, so you will not always know if your child is concerned that the divorce might be his or her fault. And even if your child says, “I know,” when you reassure him or her, it is important to repeat that message a few times until you are sure that he or she truly understands and believes you.

Source: The Huffington Post, “What Children Need Most When Their Parents Divorce,” Dr. Phil, Oct. 6, 2014

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