Co-parents can help their kids heal after divorce

There's no two ways about it — divorce is hard on children. But that does not mean that parents should remain locked in a loveless marriage until their children have left the nest.

Many children of divorce admit that the peace of a post-divorce life devoid of fights and stony silences is preferable to life in a (cold) war zone. If parents want to get it right, they can agree to put aside some of the acrimony and work in concert to help the kids get over the trauma of their parents' split.

Below are some helpful tips for hopeful co-parents.

Break it gently to the children — together

Whenever it is possible, both parents should tell the kids together that they are planning to divorce. This can prevent the children from resenting one parent and demonizing the other.

Always say goodbye in person

Don't even think about "ghosting" your kids. They deserve to hear the truth from you once you are ready to make a permanent split. Having mom or dad move in and out of the house creates a climate of chaos and dashed hopes that are not fair to anyone.

Don't get granular in your explanations

The children don't need to know that mom ran off with the tennis pro or dad has taken up with his co-worker. Keep your explanations simple. Saying that you grew apart is almost always both true and sufficient.

Don't promote false hope

It's great when you and your ex are able to achieve a degree of civility between you. But don't let your kids misconstrue pleasant civility with the possibility of their parents reuniting. Make sure that they don't misinterpret your intentions.

Provide stability

Their worlds have been rocked to the core, so it's vital that as many things as possible remain the same. Keeping the kids in their same schools, neighborhoods and even bedrooms (when that is possible) is one way to stabilize their environments.

Seek counseling if necessary

Children of all ages may benefit from seeing a counselor for a few sessions to help them put the events in perspective and regain their equilibrium.

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