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What your kids may be thinking about your divorce

Are you one of many Louisiana parents who have recently filed or will soon be filing for divorce? Many people refer to January as "divorce month" because inquiries and petition filings typically spike an increase when a new year begins. Perhaps, you already sat down with your children and talked to them about your plans. If you're still worried about how your decision is going to affect their lives, you're definitely not alone in your concern. Like all good parents, you have their best interests in mind.

Children do tend to worry about numerous issues when their parents divorce. While there is no way to escape the fact that you are making a decision that will have a significant impact on your children's lives, it doesn't necessarily mean they won't be able to cope and adapt to a new lifestyle in a healthy, productive manner. Children definitely sense a parent's stress, however, so doing what you can to keep your own stress levels low may help them come to terms with the situation.

Children worry what will happen to them

Depending on the ages of your children, you might notice various reactions in them when you explain the life changes that are about to take place. It's common for kids to worry about themselves, wondering what will happen once you and their other parent no longer share a household.

It's helpful to try to alleviate such fears by reminding them often that you will be there to take care of them and to provide love and support as they adjust to the changes in their lives.

Tell them it's not their fault

It might seem logical to you that divorce is an adult issue; however, children tend to internalize such issues. Many kids blame themselves for their parents' divorce. Younger children, in particular, might not be able to verbalize their feelings, which is why it's important for them to hear from you that the decisions you have made about your marriage are adult issues and they are not to blame.

Confusion about parental loyalty

You would likely see your children fare best after divorce if you and your ex provide ample opportunities for them to spend time with both of you, although not necessarily at the same time. Children love both parents. If they sense that you feel jealous of the time they spend with your ex or that you get upset if they talk about him or her, it can impede their ability to cope with divorce.

Avoid parental conflict as much as possible

One of the biggest stress factors for children in divorce is parental conflict. It's not uncommon for spouses to disagree about certain issues, such as child custody, visitation, property division or other matters. After all, if you were like-minded on all issues, you might still be married.

If your children constantly witness you and your ex arguing or acting and speaking negatively to or about each other, they may be far less likely to adapt to the changes in their lives in a healthy manner. The good news is that children who witness their parents being willing to cooperate and compromise for their sake are often able to adjust to post-divorce lifestyles without adverse health effects.

Don't hesitate to seek additional support

You need not go it alone as you try to help your children come to terms with your divorce. You hopefully have trusted friends and extended family members who can help encourage and support your kids as they adjust to new routines and structures in their lives. Licensed counselors, school faculty members and experienced family law attorneys are also advocates who can step in to provide guidance and support if you encounter a problem you do not feel equipped to handle on your own. 

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