3. Never talk trash about your estranged/divorced partner. That person is your child's parent. My 10 year old daughter said to me: “I’m going to tell you the same thing I told my Dad. It hurts me when you talk mean about my Dad. He’s my dad; and I love him. Talking mean about somebody I love hurts me.”
4. Allow yourself to cry or feel sad, even if your children are present. Kids are not hurt by your emotions; they just need to know that adults are in charge. “I want to let myself feel sad right now,” you can say even to a two-year-old.
5. Leave room for your children to feel sad, share their tears, or miss the other parent. Put them in moving water (swimming, showers), as often as possible, do art projects involving big movements (keeps the diaphragm from locking up), take walks in nature, etc. Regardless of your own pain, let your child fully express the pain they feel! Don't focus on who caused it, but on how can I support my child to successfully transit what is happening now? Focus on facilitating healing. Get help if you are too emotionally upset or don't know what to do.
6. Leave time for the grief process because there is no set time limit. Don't introduce new partners or dates to your children right away. For instance, my three-year-old son was terrified when my brother visited me right after my divorce: he thought I was replacing his father with this man. Grief occurs in waves, and may show up for months or even years.
7. If you have seen an escalation in arguments and fighting prior to separation, that must end first. Studies have shown it's not the separation or divorce itself that is the most emotionally costly for kids: it's actually the fighting and arguing. The greatest damage occurs when they continue after the separation or divorce. Anger: Manage It (Forever), or Master It (For Good)?
8. Check in with your child as her or she gets older. Children make decisions, even before they can talk, about what they need to do to ensure their survival in your family. My daughter was 10 months old when I got a divorce and age 13, she would not allow herself to participate in after-school activities. I discovered she had made a decision that it was up to her to keep me and my ex happy. So then we both informed her we were happy, thanked her for her love, and then told her the way to really make us happy was to go into her own life fully, which she did!