Matters of the heart run deep. When you once loved someone, it can be excruciatingly painful to have them leave your life. And that is not necessarily any easier just because the choice to walk away was yours. When you share children with that person, it can be even harder. Completely severing your relationship with him or her is virtually impossible in most cases.

If you truly want to keep the best interests of your children in mind, you must consider they love their other parent – in a different way, though probably just as much as you once did. You will probably need to work through your own anger, disappointment and heartbreak regarding your divorce. But as a parent, you also must help your children understand their thoughts and feelings about your divorce as they deal with their loss.

3 Ways you can help your children process

You may notice behavioral changes in your children during and after your divorce. While this might be difficult for you, it is important to be present for your children. As they come to terms with your divorce, there are certain things you can do to help your children, which include:

  • Keep your marital stress separate from the children – Fighting in front of your children could potentially put them on defense and might escalate feelings of loyalty toward one parent or the other. Meanwhile, continual yelling can increase trauma and provide an unhealthy environment.
  • Maintain consistency – Although your family situation is changing, try to keep things the same as possible. Continue with your usual expectations for your children. Communicating transitions and scheduling changes can provide your children a sense of security.
  • Allow your children the opportunity to freely express themselves – Sometimes it might be difficult to hear your children’s thoughts about your divorce or their other parent. However, they need space to speak their minds as they try to figure out what they think and how they feel about the situation. While you can remind the children to be respectful, open communication can provide a feeling of safety for them as they heal from changes out of their control.

Your divorce might be emotionally draining for you. You likely have varying emotions to work through. But it is important to remember that your children are experiencing your divorce in their own way. By allowing transparency through the process, you can teach them healthy ways to deal with change while providing a safe and comfortable opportunity to heal.