7 Ways to Protect Your Child’s Mental Health in a Divorce

In the United States, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As part of the month, we are shining a spotlight on an under-discussed topic: the mental health of young children. While great strides have been made in having open discussions about mental health among adults and teenagers, the headspace of young children tends to be under-considered. That holds doubly true of those whose parents are going through a divorce.

When making a ruling in divorce proceedings, California Judges seriously consider the best interests and desires of the children. An essential element of positive mental health for children is having a relationship with both parents. It is not good for the children to suddenly only have one parent. With that in mind, here are 7 ways you can help protect your child’s mental health during a divorce:

  1. Try not to “talk bad” about your ex-spouse in front of your children. Kids understand at a very young age that they are “part mom” and “part dad,” so when they hear you speak ill of your spouse, they can hear it as reflecting poorly on a part of themselves.
  2. Do not use your children as a messenger to relay things to your ex-spouse. Do not use them to carry things back and forth or return them to the other party. Do not quiz them about their other parent when they return to you. Your children should not bridge your relationship with your ex.
  3. Explain that the divorce is not your child’s fault, and remind them frequently of this. Children, especially between ages three and seven, concretely understand what the separation of their parents means, and often attribute it to something they did themselves.
  4. Work to have consistency in your child’s schedule. This means keeping a consistent schedule in terms of when they switch places they live but also keeping consistent policies and living spaces between the two houses.
  5. Do not turn to your child for emotional support or allow them to become a confidant for you. This is especially true if your children are teenagers, who normally take on an inappropriate amount of responsibilities following a divorce. Let your children be children.
  6. Be honest with your kids in the safest way possible, and create a space where they feel comfortable sharing their feelings. Ask them how they are doing and remind them they don’t have to feel bad about anything they might be feeling.
  7. Try not to share the financial burdens of divorce with your children, even if they notice the lifestyle changes. Teenage children are most likely to worry about the financial repercussions of divorce, so work to assure their fears. If at all possible, both parents should try to keep the children in their same schools and extracurricular schedules.

Everyone is subject to stress and sadness in a divorce, including the children. As we consider Mental Health Awareness Month, remember to protect your kids as much as you can and create a space where they feel safe sharing their emotions with you. For effective legal solutions for today’s modern family, contact The Grey Legal Group today. We understand that the law is not just black and white.

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The Grey Legal Group, APC

At The Grey Legal Group, we take pride in getting to know our clients personally. Whether you’re going through a divorce, child custody issues, or problems enforcing divorce orders, you can feel confident in our knowledgeable, hands-on approach.

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