Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Kids and Divorce - How to Help Them Cope

With so many marriages ending in divorce, many involving young children, parents are naturally worried about how to best protect their kids through the process. The key is in remembering that the divorce is not their fault, and that their mother and father will continue to always love them.

According to Allison Granite, MSW, LCSW, a licensed clinical social worker who lives and works in Voorhees, NJ, "The most important thing parents can do to help ease kids through the divorce process is to constantly reassure them that their relationship with both parents is permanent and continuing."

Parents must try to put aside their own personal crisis, which is easier said than done. You should keep your kids included in the process as it relates to them. Tell them what to expect and give them enough time to process and talk about any major changes, such as a parent moving out of the marital home, before those changes happen. Parents need to be honest, but give age-appropriate answers when their children have questions about the divorce. Remember that although the marital relationship might end, responsible parenting must continue.

Here are a few steps that divorcing parents should consider at the start of the process:

• Consider mediation. In many cases it can be quicker, less costly and far less adversarial.

• Be financially aware. You will need to know what assets exist, how much they are worth and how much you owe.

• Know where your money goes. Checking account and credit card statements can help you pull together an accurate and realistic budget of what your family spends and what you will be able to afford in the future.

• Be realistic. It is unlikely that you will receive all the assets or all of your spouse's income. The process is intended to be fair to both sides.

• Keep the children out of the middle. No matter what your spouse's faults, the children deserve a relationship with both parent, and it is not their responsibility to negotiate the divorce.

• Select professionals to assist whom you understand and trust. Ask questions and listen to their advice. A good lawyer will outline the pros and cons of a decision and give reasoned advice.

No couple wants to get divorced, but when it is truly the best thing, you have to work very hard to make the transition as smooth as possible for yourself and especially your kids.

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