The months leading up to and directly following a divorce are usually a time of major adjustment for all members of the family. Parents, children, and even pets must deal with the change of a new living situation, more time apart from one another, and the simple realization that the family will never quite be the same again. Obviously, these changes can affect children long after the family settles into its new reality. However, there are several tactics that parents can take to ensure that a divorce does not have a lasting negative effect on their children.

First, parents need to reassure their children, continually reminding them that the divorce was not their fault. Children often blame themselves for a divorce, especially if they are very young. Therefore, parents need to diligently remind their children that they were not responsible for their parents' split.

Second, parents should not bad-mouth their ex-spouse in front of the couple's children. To achieve this, parents need to be careful about what they are not saying. For example, a parent who repeatedly asks "Are you alright? Was your visit okay?" upon picking up the children from the other spouse's home leads to the conclusion that something must be wrong with the parent or their home.

Third, parents should learn to be okay with the other's parenting style. It is unavoidable that former spouses will disagree on how to deal with certain situations. They likely would have clashed on those issues even if they had remained married. However, different parenting styles are likely not harmful for the children. If they resist your parenting, claiming that the other parent does or does not allow them to do something, simply state that you understand that, but you will handle things differently. Again, ensure that you do not disparage or dismiss the other parent in this conversation with your child.

Source: Columbia Daily Tribune, "Ways to lessen divorce trauma", Joanne Nelson, 7 April 2011