How your children's ages influence their reaction to your divorce

If you were to gather all the parents in Arizona together and ask them to share some of the biggest challenges they have faced along their journeys, many of them might say that their toughest times occurred when they themselves were going through divorce. If you're recently divorced or are considering filing papers in the near future, you may relate to such feelings.

There is no way to predict how your children will react to your divorce. You can safely assume they will experience fluctuating emotions. The rest depends on many factors, including how old your children are at the time. Toddlers, middle-schoolers and teenagers each tend to react a bit differently from one another. Building a strong support system as soon as possible can go a long way to help them cope.

Younger children often feel confused

Your youngest kids simply want to love and be loved. They may not understand what it truly means to be divorced but they know their lives have changed because their parents no longer live under the same roof. It is understandable that they might ask a lot of questions, such as why they have to drive back and forth to be with their parents or why you don't go anywhere as a family anymore.

Middle-schoolers often internalize problem issues

All children, but especially those between the ages of 10 and 13, need to hear that their parents' divorce is not their fault. Never assume that your kids understand this already. If you're currently facing child custody problems or disagreements about other co-parenting issues, it is even more critical that you tell your kids they are not to blame for your marriage coming to an end.

Teenagers often experience frustration and anger

It's no secret that teenagers typically deal with a roller coaster of emotion just by being who they are. They have raging hormones and are going through a lot of physical and mental changes at this point in their lives. Add a divorce to the issues they are facing, and you are likely to see expressions of anger -- anger at one or both parents, anger that they have to move or travel between homes and anger when they can't even define what they are angry about.

Take one step at a time

You can't solve all your children's problems overnight. You can, however, tell them often that you love them and that you are going to be right by their said to support them as they adapt to a new lifestyle. Beyond that, you can seek outside support as needed, perhaps from a licensed counselor, a family group or a legal advocate.

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