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How to keep children thriving after divorce

It is undeniable that divorce can be hard on children. Children may think they are responsible for the divorce or that they must side with one parent over the other. According to a psychology professor at Wake Forest University, however, there is no reason why a child cannot do well after a divorce.

The Wall Street Journal reports five ways to protect kids from the negative effects of a divorce:

  • It is important that children remain close to both parents. Parents should individually continue to do both normal, routine activities with children, as well as go on special outings and activities with them.
  • Parents should avoid fighting in the presence of children. When parents fight, insult, or speak poorly about each other in front of children, the children often feel torn between their parents.
  • Studies have shown that when each individual parent's household and standard of living is relatively comparable to the others, children are more likely to thrive. It can be problematic for one parent to give presents to a child while the other parent is unable to do so.
  • Both parents should continue to be care givers to children. This could include something as simple as preparing meals or helping with math homework.
  • Children are reluctant to embrace change and, thus, parents should try to make their children's lives as stable as it was before the divorce. If possible, children should continue to go to the same school and live in the same house. Parents can also help their children by keeping similar or the same rules between houses.

While the divorce rate is the lowest it has been since 1970, there are still over 1 million children living with a parent who has recently divorced. If divorcing parents can communicate amicably and put aside their differences for the benefit of their children, the children can escape much of the negative aftereffects of divorce.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "The Child-Focused Divorce," Elizabeth Bernstein, Sept. 6, 2011

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