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Divorce: Taking Care of Yourself

​Divorce can be extremely painful and stressful for parents. How you adjust emotionally to divorce plays a role in how well your children will adjust.

Good Self­-Care

Practice good self-­care and model to your children how you cope with stress:

  • Get enough sleep

  • Exercise

  • Eat healthy

  • Get support from a friend, family member, counselor, or clergyperson

Communication Help

Communication between parents is key. If sitting down one­on­one with your spouse seems too challenging, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends divorce mediation or counseling. Counselors can help spouses come to important joint decisions while minimizing conflict. They can also help children deal with their emotions and come to terms with the changes happening to their family.

Education Programs

Divorce mediation or divorce education classes might also help reduce stress and tensions related to the divorce proceedings and can help improve the co­parenting relationship. They have been shown to improve satisfaction with the divorce proceedings, increase parents' understanding of children's needs, reduce co­parenting conflict, strengthen parent­child relationships, and improve child and parent well­being.

Talking to Your Child's Pediatrician & Teachers

Communicating with your child's pediatrician or teachers about the divorce may also be important. You do not have to share overly personal details, but it can help your child's doctor or school provide appropriate care and referrals if they are kept in the loop about the general divorce proceedings. Pediatricians are a resource for helping parents understand when their child's reactions could be cause for concern and can support parents in finding age­appropriate ways to talk about the divorce.

Weathering the Storm

Divorce is a potential time of crisis for families, but parents can make a major difference in how children weather the storm. Children will do best if they maintain a positive relationship with both parents and are shielded from conflict and if their parents are committed to co­parenting in a way that puts the children's needs first.

Additional Information & Resources:

Last Updated
Adapted from Building Resilience in Children and Teens: Giving Kids Roots and Wings, 3rd Edition (Copyright © 2015 Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD, MS Ed, FAAP, and Martha M. Jablow)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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