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Dealing with your children's grief over your divorce

All responsible parents understand that a divorce can be difficult, sad and stressful for children, However, they may not consider that their kids are actually going through a grieving process. While a loved one hasn't died, they've lost the family dynamic they knew and having their parents together as a couple.

If parents recognize what their kids are experiencing as grief, complete with the stages involved in it, they can better help them. These stages are:

-- Denial

-- Anger

-- Bargaining

-- Depression

-- Acceptance

The stages of grief over parental divorce don't begin at the same time for all children. However, in most cases the cycle starts when they first are told of their parents' impending split. As with everyone experiencing any type of grief, no two children go through the grief cycle at the same rate.

Divorcing parents, of course, are dealing with their own grief. However, it's essential that they be cognizant of what their children are experiencing as well.

This begins with telling your kids about the divorce as a team. If you focus on the fact that you'll both still be their parents and that your split has nothing to do with them, this will help them begin to process it in a healthy manner.

Keep any conflicts, whether about your relationship or parenting, away from them. They shouldn't see or hear them. Don't express any negative feelings about each other to them or make them feel that they need to take sides at any point. As much as you can continue to both be part of important activities and events in their lives together amicably, it's important to do that.

Allow your children to express their feelings -- anger, sadness, fear, frustration and more. As long as they aren't doing anything to hurt themselves or anyone else, open expression of feelings can be healthy.

Finally, create new traditions. Maybe you're losing some of the traditions you've always enjoyed as a family. However, each parent can create new traditions with the kids that can create positive memories from this period that they can carry with them into adulthood.

If you believe that your kids need some psychological help to get through this time, your Rhode Island family law attorney can likely refer you to some qualified professionals to help them as they adjust to their new family life.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "Helping Children Cope With Grief During a Divorce," accessed June 09, 2017

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Providence, RI 02909

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