Relationships Quick Answers
My former spouse and I get along well. If we continue to do things together as a family after the divorce, will it be harder for our children to understand that we’re not getting back together and to adjust to the divorce?
Research on the effects of divorce on children has shown that there are several things that can help children adjust to well to divorce:
- Ongoing, supportive relationship with both parents
- Low levels of conflict between parents
- Keeping children out of the middle of conflicts between parents
- Open, honest communication with their parents
- Giving children both nurturance and consistent limits
It is common for children to fantasize about their parents getting back together, even if their parents do not spend any time together. This has more to do with their level of cognitive development than with parents spending time together. If parents get along well with each other and are honest with their children that they are not going to get back together, then doing things as a family can be a positive, supportive experience for children. These times together as a family may also reassure children that both parents still love them. However, if there is a high level of conflict between parents, it is probably better to minimize children’s exposure to that conflict. More information about ways parents can help their children adjust to divorce can be found at:
This University of Missouri Extension guidesheet gives information on how children of different ages respond to divorce and things parents can do to help them adjust.
The following books also have more information about parenting after divorce and helping children adjust:
Making Divorce Easier on Your Child: 50 Effective
Ways to Help Children Adjust, by Nicholas Long and
Rex Foreland, Contemporary Books.
Mom’s House, Dad’s House: Making Two Homes for Your Child, by Isolina Ricci, Fireside Books.
Kim Leon, Ph.D., Former Assistant Professor and State Specialist, Human Development & Family Studies, Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension
Alison Levitch, Human Development & Family Studies Graduate Student, Human Environmental Sciences, University of Missouri Extension
Last update: Friday, August 22, 2008