While some couples may stay together to raise their children, slightly more than 40 percent of first marriages in America end in divorce, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Many of those marriages involve children, who may be confused or angered by the situation. It's important to include your children in the healing process of a divorce, offering them encouragement to talk about their feelings and their fears. Children will experience their own version of divorce and may mistakenly blame themselves; help them understand and process the real reasons behind what has happened and deal with their feelings.
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If your child likes to work with crayons and colored pencils, spend some time drawing out his feelings. You can have him draw what the divorce looks like to him, or how he feels in relation to his parents and their divorce. Or you can have your child draw a picture of what he'd like to see happen if he could be granted one wish.
Don't tell your child what he should draw about the divorce, but use the pictures as a stepping stone to have a conversation about your child's feelings. Be positive and supportive of your child's feelings, even if you don't agree with them.
Round-robin storytelling allows your child to get some of her feelings out about divorce as well as allow her to express her creativity. Begin a story with your child with a sentence such as, "Once upon a time there was a family ..." or, "Sally has two houses and ..." and then let your child tell a sentence or two.
Each of you builds on the previous sentence until a complete story is told. You'll glean some insight into what your child is thinking, and she will be able to get some of her feelings out. Younger children may need additional prompts to tell their part of the story.
Children love to pretend, so let them be the parent and you can be the child. Or use acting as a way to teach your child to handle issues specific to divorce. The Children of Divorce Intervention Program suggests that role playing and skits can provide a way to understand and uncover what your child is dealing with. Some role-playing scenarios can prepare your child to know what to say in certain situations. Pretend to be a classmate who wants to know why your child lives in two homes or doesn't seem to have a daddy.
Also, swapping parent-child roles will give you some insight into how your child sees your behavior during the divorce. Look for clues, such as your child (when acting as you) complaining about your spouse or reprimanding your spouse in front of "the child."