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4 steps single parents can take when their child cries during divorce


As a caring parent, your children’s well-being is your priority. You naturally want to see your children grow and thrive beyond your divorce. As a single parent and therapist, I see you and I deeply feel the amount of anxiety it causes you to see your child upset because of your divorce and the constant worry around their well-being. As parents, one thing we do have in abundance is care, we care so deeply about our children thriving, so much so that we tie ourselves up in worry over it, which doesn’t help us or our children. What separated parents are so often lacking is the knowledge of how to make the divorce okay for their children, how to ensure they feel secure and loved, and can process what has happened in a healthy way.


I have been where you are and I have pulled together some guidance on how to respond to your child when they cry, so you can feel empowered to deal with their sadness in a way that ensures they feel understood, held and secure. Here are 4 steps single parents can take when their child cries because of their divorce.


How single parents can help their child cope with crying during divorce

1. Name it!

"You're crying, I can see how upset you are about Dad and I separating"

Verbalising this shows your child you have seen them, you understand what they are feeling and you care. Offer your children the space to raise their concerns and what’s upsetting them in a supportive comforting environment without interrupting, or trying to fix the problem.

2. Normalise it

"It's good to let your tears out when you feel this way."

This shows your child that it is okay to feel what they feel. This makes them feel safe to express their emotions around you. Though it can be difficult to hear, recognise that every child processes their thoughts, feelings, and emotions differently. Acknowledging them lets your child feel that they’re not alone and encourages them to release their sadness in the safe space with you.

3. Empathise

"It is so hard and upsetting for you that things are changing, I can see how much you're hurting."

As well as crying, children will display their emotions during your divorce in a wide variety of ways. But, no matter how they choose to express themselves, it’s important to empathise with them. Using this phrase, you’re showing your child that you not only hear and understand them but that you care about how they’re affected.

4. Offer help

"I wonder how I can help you through this? A hug? Listen? Something else?"

This shows your child that you are on their team, they are not alone and that they have your support. Instead of trying to be their rescuer and pushing your solutions, ask your children how you may help. Allow them to tell you what help they need or if they are younger offer a few suggestions they can pick from. This helps to empower them by giving them some control over their world and fosters their ability to express what they need, which is important for healthy relationships later in life.


From one separated mum to another, you’ve got this!

As a separated mother and therapist who’s overcome the same journey, my goal is to help struggling single mums who have or are separated stop feeling anxious over their children’s well-being. You can check out how to work with me and find more resources by clicking below.

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