Richard E. Fowlks, Attorney at Law

Make sure your kids know your divorce is not their fault

While it's natural to assume that your children know you love them and are there to support them when they face unexpected changes in life, you may be surprised to learn how many children mistakenly think they are to blame when their parents divorce. A key factor in helping your kids adapt to a post-divorce lifestyle lies in letting them know it's not their fault and that you are there to help them as they come to terms with the situation.

No two children react to divorce exactly the same. One child may grow distant from you while another doesn't ever want to leave your side. You know your children better than anyone, so you are the best person to determine what they need to help them cope with your divorce in as healthy a manner as possible. You may decide to seek outside support if one or more of your children has a special need that you believe an Oregon counselor, faith leader or support group can address.

Other ideas that may help you support your kids

It's often the little things that mean the most when it comes to helping children cope with their parents' divorce. The following ideas have helped other parents provide the love and attention their kids needed when trying to get used to the idea that they no longer had both parents under the same roof:

  • If a particular child likes to verbally express his or her thoughts, you may benefit from arranging some quiet time together. You can share a private meal, take a walk or just sit together in a favorite spot so your child has ample opportunity to talk about his or her feelings.
  • Some kids shy away from verbal communication. If you know your son or daughter prefers to correspond through texting or email, or by writing thoughts down in a journal, you can take steps to make sure he or she has the chance to do so.
  • Sudden, unexpected changes often cause children the most stress in divorce. The more you can maintain your children's normal routines and daily structure, the better. Doing so often requires tremendous cooperation and compromise between parents. If your former spouse refuses to stick to your parenting plan, you may want to speak with a family law attorney about ways to rectify such problems.
  • Letting your kids know they are free to share their emotions without fear of repercussion is a major component of helping children navigate divorce. Just like you, your kids may experience sorrow, confusion or even anger relating to your divorce. If they know they can come to you to share their thoughts, they will fare better in the long run.

It's one thing to say you don't have to sit back and allow the other parent to impede your relationship with your kids; it's quite another to know how to handle such situations in a way that doesn't further upset your children.

Outside support may be the best choice

If you and your former spouse get along well and are able to amicably communicate about important family matters, you may be able to resolve a parenting issue without going back to court. More times than not, however, Oregon parents find they need legal assistance to get things back on the right track when custody, visitation or other child-related problems arise.

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Richard E. Fowlks, Attorney at Law
1607 N.E. 41st Avenue
Portland, OR 97232

Toll Free: 888-779-8837
Phone: 503-505-7941
Fax: 503-249-8500
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