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Dealing with the grief of divorce while parenting

Going through a divorce or any break-up as a parent presents some unique challenges. This is particularly if you're the parent your kids are living with most of the time. You can't just sit down with a pint of ice cream or take to your bed whenever the grief gets too intense. You have to be aware that your children are watching you and likely taking cues from you regarding how they should feel. If the break-up involved their other parent, they're dealing with their own grief.

One child and family psychologist notes that while you don't want to overwhelm your children with your feelings, it's important not to hide them either. Sharing your feelings at an age-appropriate level for your kids is good. However, it's probably best to keep the conversations short and limited to what they ask or need to know. Kids tend to see themselves as responsible for everything that goes on in their world, so they need to understand that your sadness has nothing to do with them.

Watching their parents cope with grief in a healthy way can provide a good example for them. When they get older and suffer loss, they can look back and see how their mom and/or dad was sad, but still continued with their daily life and responsibilities. It can help them learn that while it's sad to break up with someone we love, life goes on and eventually things get better.

If your grief over your break-up is more than you can handle alone, it's best to get some kind of counseling or at least join a support group. It's normal to feel sad, distracted and irritable. However, if you find yourself slipping into depression, contemplating suicide or engaging in unhealthy or addictive behavior, you should no longer try to deal with it on your own. If you need some help dealing with your divorce without letting your parenting suffer, your Texas family law attorney can likely recommend some helpful resources for you.

Source: TIME Magazine, "Parenting While Heartbroken: The Do’s and Don’ts," Rachel Simmons, Dec. 30, 2015

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