Families Change
Parent Guide to Separation & Divorce

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What should I do as a parent?

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You can do a lot to help your children deal with separation or divorce. Here are some tips:

Take care of yourself

You can’t take care of your kids if you don’t take care of yourself. This is a stressful time for you, but your children still depend on you. You should try to balance taking care of yourself with supporting your children. This isn’t easy, but it’s important.

Take care of your physical and mental health. You will be able to handle your divorce or separation better if you do. If you are worn out or overly tired, you might have trouble making tough decisions that come up.

  • Get enough rest. Get 7 or 8 hours of sleep a night.
  • Get some exercise every day. You can walk or go for bike rides with your children.
  • Eat healthy meals. If it’s hard for you to cook, try to make healthy choices when you eat out. There are also a lot of quick and healthy options at the grocery store.
  • If you have a job, keep going to work. It’s good to keep doing what you usually do and to stay in contact with people that you know.
  • Get support. Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, or coworkers who are close to you.

Make time for your children

  • Spend time with your kids. It will take your mind off your divorce and help your kids feel better and stay close to you.
  • Do things that you and your children both like, or take turns deciding what to do together.
  • Have fun with your kids! Read books, go for bike rides, play games, go to the park or to a movie.
  • Spend time one-on-one with each of your kids. You can use times when one child is doing something else to spend time with your other child.

Don’t change the rules

  • Keep the rules the same as they were before the separation or divorce. If you change the rules now, it will just be confusing.

Keep routines the same

  • Your kids need structure. Regular rules and routines help them feel safe and normal.
  • Try to keep family routines the same as usual. Make sure your kids keep up with their schoolwork and their usual activities.

Allow children to make choices

  • Your children might feel helpless because they aren’t able to make many of the decisions about the divorce.
  • Let them make some choices in their daily lives. They will feel better having some control over the things they do.
  • Try to keep the choices simple. For example, let them choose between two pairs of pants when they get dressed.

Let kids be kids

Your children, especially if they’re teenagers, might try to take on some of the adult responsibilities in the house. It’s good for you to have help around the house, and it’s good for kids to have regular chores. But remember, your kids should also have the chance to just be kids.

Encourage them to keep doing things they enjoy, like hanging out with their friends. Try not to lean on them too much for support. If you need emotional support, talk to your adult friends and family.