You are going through a divorce, which, of course, is a very traumatic experience for you. And if you have kids, you have to think about how to mitigate the damage for them during this period of adjustment. Here are eight tips to help you and your children during this stressful time.

Don’t disrespect your ex. When your children are within hearing range, don’t say anything bad about your ex. This is their father or mother and no matter what, they love that person even if you don’t anymore. And the same holds true for face-to-face conversations with your ex. It may be a challenge at times, but keep it respectful. Kids do what they see their parents do ten times more than what their parents tell them to do.

Continue activities as a family. Divorce doesn’t have to be the end of a family; it’s just the end of a marriage. Unless or until either of you gets remarried or otherwise occupied, you can keep doing outings together as a family if the divorce was relatively amicable. Maybe not as often as when you were married, but it would benefit your kids to see that their parents are still friends.

When not present, call or write often. What’s the best way to let your kids know you still love them? Stay involved in their lives. Let them know you care about what they’re doing and what’s important to them.

Communicate with your ex directly. Don’t send messages through your kids to your ex, no matter how inconsequential the topic may seem. In this high-tech communication age, it is not difficult at all to converse directly with someone. Using your kids as a buffer or pawn is not fair to them.

Talk about the divorce. It is extremely important to keep the lines of communication open at all times between you and your children. Tell them what to expect and encourage them to talk about their feelings about the divorce or anything else at any time. Don’t let your stress or anxiety get in the way of allowing them to feel safe and comfortable to communicate about their feelings with you.

Give kids journals or coloring pages to express their feelings. Depending on their ages, this can help them work through and vent some of their feelings. Tell them they can share it with you or keep it private, it’s up to them.

Don’t introduce your kids to a new boyfriend/girlfriend. Until it’s serious, keep your social life separate, especially if your divorce or separation is new. Your kids will not be receptive to an outsider for quite some time.

Give your kids more time, not more things. A lot of divorced parents fall into the spoiling trap. They feel guilty or inadequate as parents, so they give their kids more things to try to connect. Don’t. Spend more quality time with them and really be present. Listening to them and asking questions about their interests will show them that you are still there and love them.

While you are being so good to your children and trying to handle your divorce responsibly and respectfully, be sure to take some time to honor and love yourself. You have made a huge decision that will change the course of your life. It took a lot of courage. Here is an inspirational quote to keep in mind from Harriet Beecher Stowe: “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

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