How to Tone Down Parent Conflict During Separation and Divorce to Help Your Kids Adjust


Divorce and separation are normal in relationships, and though marriages are intended to remain functional between spouses, sometimes things fail to work out between, and the only advisable solution becomes breaking up. In fact, family psychologists advocate for separations rather than consistent conflicts between spouses which sometimes might cost damages and pronounced domestic tension.

All the same, while the two partners solicit for their individual wellbeing, it’s important to consider that the decisions affect the children, and not only the two of them. Divorce and separations affect the children, mostly in negative ways. Although the intensity of its impacts on the children may differ depending on a child’s age, personality, and circumstances that made it necessary, it’s always an expectation that the children will endure shock, anger, confusion, sadness, frustration, and cause them to worry.

Nevertheless, toning down conflicts during separations and divorces may help ease kid’s acclimatization to the developments and the outcomes. The following factors might help in making the process simpler and to ensure that children endure lesser emotional effects when their parents decide to live apart.

Make the separation/divorce as simple as possible

The quicker the process of divorce or separation, the lesser the intricacies involved. Long divorce processes always create opportunities for long exchanges between the parents, which might eventually attract the attention of the children before the due time. Although time should be allowed for each partner to absorb everything, partners in the interest of children should consider reducing derails, which might be caused by either of the partners creating inflexible terms during the process.

Talk civilly and preferably in absence of the children

Divorces and separations mostly involve heated exchanges, visible conflicts and sometimes tough legal stipulations which are meant to make the party calling for the divorce/separation bear the pain. Being the case, it’s important to avoid engaging in divorce/separation discussions in the presence of children as this might elicit unnecessary tension. In the process, the exchanges may cause distress in the children, if the children are mature enough to acquaint themselves to the situation.

Hold meetings away from home

In many cases, a mediator may be involved in ensuring that amicable solutions are met and each spouse is comfortable with the ultimate decisions. However, due to the intensity of divorce/separations, settlements are preferably discussed in neutral spaces, such as a lawyer’s office or houses of worship (such as in church, mosque e.t.c). This ensures that children and other parties such as housemaids who may expose the developments to the children are kept off the loop and are least affected by what transpires until the scheduled time. Even if tempted to talk about it at home when the spouse calmly brings it up, you can choose not to, since it’s probable that arguments might crop in presence of the kids.

Minimize the disruptions to kids’ daily routines

It’s important to ensure that children are kept safe from divorce matters, as this might affect their daily routines, such as schooling or impact their health. Some children might be vulnerable and may succumb to shock after learning of what transpires between their parents.

For instance, some might experience stress and depression, or even blood pressure issues. As such, responsible couples may choose to separate during school holidays to avoid interrupting their children’s education or finalize their divorce after the child is mature enough to understand the issue or is out of high school to avoid interfering with the school calendar.

Seek therapeutic interventions to confine negativities and blame

Divorce may elicit excitement and sometimes stressful encounters. Out of pressure, a partner might feel necessity to storm into a spouse’s house and cause commotions. Such circumstances may be aggravated by jealous aroused by the sight or imagining the spouse with another man/woman before the two are officially divorced. To avoid such incidents, it’s important to seek counseling or talk to a trusted friend as this may help ease the frustrations which may be passed on to the innocent children.

Breaking the news to the children at the right time

Soon after ascertaining that divorce or separation must take place, it’s only advisable to talk to the children about your mutual decision to live apart. This will help prevent shockers and self-blame in the children, should they find it out through other sources. Apparently, there is no easy way to break such news to the children.

However, if possible this conversation should be made in presence of both parents and another person that the children trust. Care should be taken to avoid emotions, such as blame for each other, or angry outbursts during this moment. For efficiency, the language used should befit the child’s level of maturity, age, maturity, and temperament. With carefully chosen words, kids will gradually confine to the situation and eventually adjust to why it happened.

Avoid dividing the children- Keep each parent involved in every kid’s lives

Children must always feel safe with both parents and remain to rest assured that they belong to both. At no time should a rift be drawn between the kids as this will elicit difficult emotions, such as self-judgment, which will make their adjustment more difficult. Even after separation/divorce, do not make the children take sides. It’s important that the children keep in touch with both the parents and continue to feel their presence in their lives. This will make their coping easier.

Only introduce a new partner to your child when sure

Always understand that your children just underwent a terrific experience seeing you part with their father or mother. You certainly don’t want to stress them again by introducing a new foster parent who you may break up soon.

Thus, be sure of the person’s certain intensions before introducing them to the children. Sometimes, it’s important to observe how s/he interacts with the kids and gauge their ability to coexist during his/her visits. Slowly introduce the partner to the children after being sure that you are fit for each other, and that the children are comfortable with him/her.  Read more on the KidsHealth resource.