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Parenting Through Divorce

March 10, 2014

By Nely Bergsma

A child stands between her two parents, looking at her father.

Our children were 6 and 12 years old when their father and I decided to part ways. Yes, “part ways,” otherwise known as divorce. Now that they are 16 and 23 years old, I can offer my personal perspective of how divorce affected them during various stages of their development. Some moments were more difficult than others. The key is to remain positive, honest, and always put the healthy development of the children first.

Parenting can be rewarding as well as difficult with two parents in the home. It can also be as equally rewarding and difficult when two people decide they can no longer share a home and part ways. It is not an easy decision by any means, and is very personal and unique to all those involved. But just as it is important for two people to parent together within a home, it becomes equally-- if not more important-- to remain in balance during and after a divorce.

How does one tell their children that they may not be seeing one parent every day? Or that they may be going from one home to another? How does one begin to explain the reasons why? It’s not easy, but there are a few things you can do.

  • Remain honest. 
  • Keep your explanations simple, direct, and age appropriate. 
  • Whenever possible, address any concerns and fears your children may have together as parents. 
  • Keep a united front. Both parents should agree to share the same explanations with your children.

As challenging as it can be at times, parents should always remember they remain an example to their children as to how to behave, communicate, and express emotion. If children witness arguing, they will become argumentative. If they witness anger and sadness, they will become angry and sad. Such emotions put them at risk of acting out, making bad choices, and becoming involved in toxic friendships and relationships. Both parents should try to model positive behavior with your children.

While you may have begun to build lives apart from each other, your children will always see you as “their” parents. Their level of understanding of the choices you made or will make as parents can depend on several factors. Their age and maturity may require different methods of communicating with them. Regardless, maintaining a positive and unified front when it comes to parenting will allow children to positively grow and develop successfully within all aspects of their lives.

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