Brian D. Perskin & Associates

A Parent’s Guide for Handling Divorce

It can be easy for a person to get caught up in a divorce, especially a parent. A parent not only has to worry about their own stress, anxiety and frustrations, but also their child's. A child may not be able to comprehend the situation and might even believe that the divorce is their fault. Whether you will ultimately become the custodial or non-custodial parent, there are steps you can follow to ensure that both you, and your child, overcome this difficult transition.

You must remind your child that the divorce is not their fault and that you love them, no matter what the situation or outcome of the divorce. A child may think that they will lose touch with the other parent, so it is important to let your child know that it is entirely possible to have a loving and functional relationship with the non-custodial parent. This is imperative because maintaining a normal relationship with both parents is crucial to help the child cope with divorce.

While encouraging your child to share their feelings and thoughts with you is recommended, you must be able to recognize a cry for help from your child. Sometimes an unbiased source is needed to listen to your child's concerns and to help them figure out how to properly handle the divorce. Great examples of unbiased sources are therapists and school counselors. The resources are there, and taking advantage of them is strongly recommended.

Divorces have the potential to be long, messy battles, and it is easy to caught up in the commotion and let your anger get the best of you. While lashing out and speaking negatively of your spouse may seem like a good idea, it isn't. Your child might overhear your conversation, which can lead to resentment for one, or both, parents. Save the venting for a therapist or friend or family member (when the child isn't with you!).

Putting your child in the middle of you and your spouse during a divorce can be incredibly damaging to the child. It is of the utmost importance to not use the child as a spy, messenger or pawn to retrieve or pass along information. You should never argue about the divorce or the child in the child's presence, as this tends to increase their feelings of guilt. You want the divorce process to be as stress and anxiety free as possible, and putting your child in the middle of arguments will actually make the situation more stressful for you and your child.

While it is important to take the steps necessary to ensure that your child copes with the divorce process, you also need to take time for yourself to decompress. Even if your relationship with your spouse turned sour, a divorce can still be incredibly painful. Your world is crumbling down, and you need to make sure you have a strong support system to help you pick up the pieces and rebuild. Your family and friends are important assets and leaning on them for support and guidance is crucial to surviving a divorce. You don't need to go through a divorce alone, and your loved ones will be more than willing to hold your hand and provide encouragement throughout the process.

A helpful tip to overcoming a divorce is to stay active. Take advantage of a dinner invitation, have a relaxing spa day or unwind at a sporting event. Participate in activities that allow you to remove yourself from the divorce process for a period of time to maintain your sanity. If you find that working keeps your mind off of the divorce, then go ahead and take on a new responsibility at the office. It's all about finding the right balance that works for you. Remember that there are scary side effects to divorce, but if you work to decompress, the divorce process can be stress and anxiety free.