Each year, more than 1 million children experience the divorce of their parents. Divorce rates peaked in 1979-1981 at 5.3 per 1000 persons and decreased by 1995 to 4.4 per 1000 persons. Approximately 50% of first marriages and 60% of second marriages end in divorce (Cohen, American Academy of Pediatrics). Moreover, the American Psychological Association notes that children of stepfamilies face higher risks of emotional and behavioral problems.
Scary statistics, however, there are things you can do to help your children during a time of transition. It is important to use age appropriate explanations. Children often believe they are the cause of divorce or they can fix it.
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These ten tips will help your child adjust:
1. Never force your child to take sides or involve your child in an argument.
2. Don't criticize or fight with you ex- spouse in front of your child. If your child overhears you arguing explain that sometimes people say hurtful things when they are upset, however there are better ways to communicate your feelings. Discuss your concerns with your ex when your child is not present. It is not helpful to bring them into your arguments or adult discussions.
3. Respect the relationship they have with the other parent. It is important to let your children show their love to both parents and spend time with each without feeling guilty. Provide your child with reassurance that both their parents still love them even though they may only be living with one parent at a time.
4. Your children know more than you think they know- so talk with them early on and often.
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