Dealing with Divorce: Creating Stability No Matter How Unstable You Might Feel

Divorce can be scary, filled with uncertainty, and will ultimately lead to a ‘new’ family structure. It is Blog-Divorce-Main-Landscapeimportant to be mindful of how uncertainty can feel to your children and to proactively take steps to create stability for your children during the divorce process.

Below are some suggestions to improve your child’s sense of stability during a divorce:

Create a Visual Calendar

As you and your family navigate the divorce process, one concern your children may have could be around their living arrangements. If your children have friends with divorced parents they may be familiar with what custody arrangements look like, however, every family is different. Early on in the process, it is important that your child understands what his or her living arrangements will look like. Moreover, one way to reduce your children’s uncertainty is to create a visual calendar for them so they know when they will be at mom or dad’s house. Involve your child in creating the calendar and making it their own by adding drawings, stickers, and favorite colors. Also, remember to update the calendar as needed – change happens and it’s important to communicate this.

Create Comfort in Both Homes

Another way to create a sense of stability is to reduce the feeling your children may have that they are living out of a backpack as they transition between parent households. One way to do this is to make sure each household has a set of your child’s essentials (i.e. daily routine items, clothing, stuffed animals, homework supplies, etc.). This can create comfort for your child as well as prevent unnecessary moments of frustration. Involve your child in this process by creating a list of needs together, then finding these items within your home or shopping together for them at the store.

Create Positive Experiences

While your child is settling into this ‘new’ family structure it is important to continue to create positive experiences. This might look like exploring new neighborhoods, finding new parks and ice cream shops – if one parent has moved to an unfamiliar area. Or creating a Wednesday night pizza tradition. Or finding a Sunday morning breakfast spot. Although learning to manage change and uncertainty is healthy and a necessary part of emotional growth, predictability can be just as helpful during times of heightened stress. Allowing your child to look forward to your new family traditions and experiences can create a sense of comfort and excitement.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

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help your child cope with divorce

How To Help Your Child Cope With Divorce

Now that the dust has settled and the formation of two separate households has emerged, how do you prepare your child to cope with the changes that occur because of divorce? Even though parenting may appear distinct and different, it is important that co-parenting remain a priority. How each parent arranges their day-to-day affairs can be incongruous, however overall expectations for the child must remain consistent.

Consistency is key in terms of helping your child transition in to this new post-divorce arrangement, help your child cope with divorceas it reduces any anxiety about what will happen next. Two households with stark contrasts in terms of routines, structure, and discipline might be confusing for the child and facilitate splitting behaviors as the child develops an awareness into which parent will best meet his needs with the least resistance. This may create a disparity in following directions and engaging in compliant behaviors across contexts. Maintaining similar modes of discipline and expectations will reaffirm that even though both parents are not under the same roof, there is uniformity in parenting which can be comforting to the child and prove effective in instilling parental core values in children.

Here are 3 tips on how to help your child deal with life after divorce:

  1. Maintain open and honest communication. Invite your child to process his feelings, both positive and negative, about the situation at hand. This will allow the child to mourn the loss of his previous perception of “family” and to adopt and transition into a newer version of “family.” Provide your child with creative outlets to draw, communicate, or conceptualize what family means to him now (i.e. a child might draw something that illustrates family equals 2 houses instead of 1 house).
  2. Never bad mouth your ex in front of your child. Maintaining positive sentiments about the child’s other parent will enhance positive feelings of the other parent in the eyes of the child. Just because there is strain in the parental dyad does not mean that child needs to take sides. Also, this ensures the child feels safe to discuss the other parent in your presence. Otherwise, the child might feel anxious about sharing his positive feelings about the other parent to you and feel caught in the middle.
  3. Communicate with your ex. Make sure that you are both on the same page about core values and expectations so you can reinforce each other as challenges arise. If for example, the child has been told at Mom’s house during the week that they cannot go to soccer practice over the weekend if they don’t comply with bedtime routine M-F, Dad would have to uphold that consequence. What is so important too is that Mom approve this consequence with Dad before offering it. If dad is not ok with compromising soccer, Mom and Dad would have to come up with another option. The more the parents are on the same page, the better, as this will reduce stress during the already stressful time brought on by divorce.

Click here to read about dating after divorce.

co-parenting effectively

Tips for Co-Parenting Effectively

When it comes to parenting, whether both parents live under the same roof or not, it is important to provide a united front with regards to discipline, routines, and overall expectations for the child. This called co-parenting.   Parental communication with regard to each parent’s value system is critical for the consistency necessary to foster appropriate modes of behavior.

Regardless of what the desired outcomes may be, follow these easy steps to co-parent effectively:

Determine desired outcomes.

It is important that prior to any triggering situation, both parents sit down and come up with clear, concrete expectations about what they desire from their kids.

  • What is the discipline style each parent is comfortable fulfilling (will allow for negotiation/open dialogue, will be more authoritarian, etc.)?
  • What behaviors will and will not be tolerated?

This way, during challenging situations, the mode of response is the same whether the parents are together or separated when with the child. This consistent co-parenting will indicate to the child that negative behaviors will not change the mind of the parent. For example, if a child begins to cry out and tantrum, will the parents given in or will the parents both remain calm and ignore the behavior? The response needs to remain the same across environments and with both or just one of the parents.


It is important to process and communicate your thoughts and feelings to provide an open forum for discussion. Do not hesitate to express your feelings and thoughts to problem-solve, but be sure to do this BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. Even if your spouse is saying something cringe-worthy in front of the children, be sure to maintain this stance and address your dismay or disagreement away from the children. The minute this parental dyad splits, the children learn how to “split” their parents to get whatever need they desire. This is where the child asks the mom for a playdate, mom says no, so child asks dad, who then says yes. To avoid this make sure that you defer back to the other parent to check on the previous resolution stated.

Follow these two simple tips to co-parent the right way.  More questions?  Our social work team can help you with any questions you may have about healthy parenting.

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How To Explain Divorce To Children | Pediatric Therapy Tv

In today’s webisode a Licensed Counselor gives viewers tips on how to discuss divorce with children. For tips on dating after a divorce click here:


In This Video You Will Learn:

  • Preparation the parents need to have prior to telling children about the divorce
  • Transitioning between homes of divorced parents
  • Why routines are important when parents are divorced

Video Transcription:

Announcer: From Chicago’s leading experts in pediatrics to a worldwide
audience, this is Pediatric Therapy TV, where we provide experience and
innovation to maximize your child’s potential. Now your host, here’s Robyn.

Robyn: Hello and welcome to Pediatric Therapy TV. I’m your host, Robyn
Ackerman. Today I’m standing here with Licensed Professional
Counselor Marnie Ehrenberg.

Marnie, can you please let newly-divorced parents know what they
can expect when dealing with their children and letting them
know about becoming divorced?

Marnie: I think it’s really important to have really good conversations
before you let your children know about how you’re going to
explain it to them.

One of the things I see really often with the younger kids is a
lot of confusion and feeling responsible, like they did
something. I think having a story that they can work with, that
they can understand, is really important.

I think it’s also good to think about how you’re going to
transition the children from one house to another. That can be a
pretty stressful new experience. I think routines and rituals
are really important, so talk to them about what can you keep
the same in their life and what’s going to change.

I also think it’s really important to work out all of their
feelings and to make sure that they have somebody that’s really
trusted that they can talk to about all the range of emotions
that they’re going to experience that are really normal.

Robyn: All right. Thank you so much for your help, and thank you to
our viewers. And remember, keep on blossoming.

Announcer: This has been Pediatric Therapy TV, where we bring peace of
mind to your family with the best in educational programming. To
subscribe to our broadcast, read our blogs, or learn more, visit
our website at That’s

Dating After Divorce: Is My Child Ready To Meet My New Partner?

Man and Child Shaking HandsFirst, Allow Time For Adjustment To The Divorce

When deciding the “if, how, and when” of introducing a new partner to your child, first consider the adjustment period they’ve been in since the divorce.


How strongly did the divorce affect your children?

How were they able to cope?

If your children are still showing signs of emotional distress (anger, sadness, fear, surprise, non-compliance) in reaction to the divorce, then you may want to hold off. Your child could need a period of at least 6 months -1 year for healthy adjustment. It is my belief that a successful Read more