Your divorce from your spouse affects the entire family, even those not directly involved, i.e., your children. Divorce unavoidably means changes to children’s lives that can sometimes be difficult.

You cannot shield your children from the effects of divorce. However, you can take steps to make it easier for them. TODAY offers some guidance on what to do for your children during and after divorce, as well as what not to do.

Dos

As with many unpleasant things in life, it may be tempting to rush through the divorce just to get it over with. However, this may result in a divorce settlement that is not advantageous to your children but that you all now have to live with. Take the time to make sure that custody and support arrangements are to your children’s benefit.

You should encourage your children to share their feelings with you about the divorce. At the same time, you should prepare for the possibility that they may choose not to. They may not have the emotional vocabulary to express what they are feeling, or they may feel that they can help matters by keeping their emotions private. Watch for signs that your children are struggling and try to ask open-ended questions to find out how you can help them.

Do nots

Your children have the right to a relationship with the other parent, and you should respect that. Do not attempt to sabotage the relationship. This sabotage could take the form of interfering with custody and visitation arrangements or withholding support. It could also involve bad-mouthing your ex-spouse to your children. This benefits no one and could hurt your children’s self-esteem and your relationship with your children as resentment sets in sooner or later.