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How your children will react to divorce depends on their age

If divorce is imminent, you are probably struggling to get your own emotions under control even as you worry about how your children will deal with life after the family breaks up.

The way your kids will manage has much to do with how old they are. Here is a brief look at what you can expect from different age groups.

Young children

With young children, life is all about depending on parents, so the divorce is definitely going to shake up their world. You will have to spend a lot of time assuring them of your love. You will need to convince them that the divorce is final and that unfortunately, there is no going back to the way things were. Be prepared to soothe anxiety and fears.

Pre-teens

At this stage, children have more of an ability to understand divorce. They may think about it and express their feelings. They will develop relationships outside the home, such as friends, teachers and coaches. At least some these will become supportive relationships. However, watch for signs of anger or sadness and of missing the other parent. You may have to step right in with your own brand of support.

Young teens

The children in this age group can better understand the issues that led to your divorce, and you can talk with them about the circumstances and answer any questions they have. At this age, they may also assert more independence, and the relationships they form outside the home will become increasingly important. Your job is to be there when they need you.

What works with all ages

There are a few things that will help kids of all ages get through the divorce and move on with their lives: having a good, workable parenting plan. This allows the kids to maintain a strong bond with both you and the other parent and ensures that they have as little exposure to conflict as possible. There will undoubtedly be some bumps to get over down the road, and how you should handle problems will always come down to what is best for the children.

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