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How to help your children through divorce

Like most good parents in South Carolina, your children's best interests are among your highest priorities. When you decided to divorce, you may have intensified your focus on this particular priority. It's no secret that children often take their cues from their parents as to how to react in certain situations, especially those deemed as crises. In short, what you say or do while your children adapt to a new family lifestyle greatly impacts the ultimate outcome of their situation.  

The good news is that there are support networks in place to help you as you guide your kids through the process that lies ahead. Whether an issue is emotional or legal in nature, if you know where to seek support ahead of time, you can take immediate steps to resolve a problem as soon as it occurs.  

In the meantime 

You'll likely have good and bad days as you and your kids move forward toward a post-divorce future. The following list includes practical ideas that may help you provide the love and support your kids need to navigate the major life changes they are currently facing: 

  • Remember that the factors that led to your divorce lie between you and your former spouse, even if some issues were child related. Kids of divorce tend to fare best when they are allowed to continue active and healthy relationships with both parents; therefore, it's always a good idea to resist any urge to pit kids against a parent. Children who feel stuck in the middle of adult disagreements often experience high levels of stress. 
  • While your kids obviously need to understand the changes that are taking place in their lives, they do not necessarily need to know every detail regarding your divorce proceedings. Adult matters are best left to adults. By giving your children basic and honest information according to what you feel they can bear emotionally, you can help them keep stress levels low and overcome any emotional challenges that arise. 
  • If you and spouse have difficulty communicating without arguing, you may want to keep your conversations out of your children's earshot. The less they hear you fighting over your divorce or about them, the better.  
  • Avoid impeding your kids' relationship with their other parent by inconspicuously using them as spies. You might not think that asking to them to find things out about your former spouse seems problematic; however, it often does more harm than good concerning children's abilities to rebound after their parents' divorces.  

Although you may want to shield your kids from many of the legal issues or contentious negotiations that take place in your divorce, they do need to understand that all parties are bound to adhere to existing court orders. By explaining to them that the court has the final say and you must obey all custody, visitation and other parenting plan rulings, your children will understand that it's not always within your power to change certain situations.  

That said, there are usually options for affecting change when needed, such as by filing a petition for modification of an existing court order if you determine a need to do so.

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