By: Richard Geller
Divorce and separation can weigh heavily on a couple. Whether the divorce was a long time coming or a complete surprise to one of the partners - its rare that the individuals involved don't require a coping mechanism to deal with and absorb the huge emotional toll.
When children are involved, however, they are subjected to the worst of it. Innocently stuck in the middle - watching their parents fight and stress over the division of marital assets and property, child custody and visitation rights. No matter how civil the parting can be, it's difficult for many children to cope with the ongoing court proceedings, the break-up of their home and the time they are 'permitted' to spend with each parent.
There's no definitive way of helping a child take on the psychological effects of a parents divorce. But the internet definitely tries their best to help. Helpguide.org provides an extensive how-to guide on Children & Divorce. Most of the tips are a highlight of the most obvious 'how-to's', but it's easy to forget some (if not most) of the basics during a distressing period of your life. Tell the truth, don't argue in their presence and no displacement of anger is just some of the things that may seem incredibly obvious, but certainly have a tendency to be thrown away when we're in red alert.
Besides other standard guides easily found on the internet, I came across an interesting post by Maria Herenandez-Tuten, on Babble.com. Maria, inspired by her past tenure as a school counselor, published a blog post titled, "10 Books to Help Kids Cope With Divorce." She goes over 10 popular books that target children of various ages in their quest to cope with the effects of their parents divorce. It may not always be easy for a parent to relate to a child, particularly if they are the reason that the child is upset (even if that parent was 'unwilling to divorce' party in the action). Historically, books have always been a brilliantly useful outlet that allowed children to mentally transport to another place and keep themselves busy. I know it was one of my all-time favorites as kid.
If your divorce has a child or children caught in the middle, just remember that they're a party to this to divorce, too. Check in with them and keep the argument out of their peripheral sight and sound. Keep their minds occupied and tell them the truth - but break it to them gently and without blame.