Coping with Separation
Coping with Divorce
Supporting Children Experiencing Parental Separation or Divorce
For many children, the pain of loss that comes with a divorce is comparable to a death. However, with the proper support from the adults in their lives, children can learn how to cope.
How does divorce affect children?
A divorce alters a child’s sense of their family unit, the first group of support and love that they know. Children can feel guilt and believe that they are to blame for the split of their parents. Divorce turns a child’s world upside down by shaking up its main source of stability. Children may have trouble understanding the introduction of stepfamilies or new partners and may need help adjusting to this new sense of family.
Divorce and the trauma that comes with it can increase the risk for learning, emotional and behavioral issues, physical health problems, aggression and substance and alcohol abuse. Long-term effects of divorce on a child can continue to surface for decades to come.
How can you help?
It is important to let the child know that they are not alone. You need to work with a child to help them learn how to express feelings around the topic of divorce and grief. Age-appropriate curriculum is essential, as children in different age groups will feel and process quite differently.
How does Rainbows provide support?
Rainbows for All Children has helped more than 3.5 million youth over the past 38 years, and continues to serve all children, regardless of age, race, gender or financial ability. If you know a child grieving from a loss, click here to find Rainbows programming near you. The Rainbows program is free for all participants anywhere in the world that groups meet.
By joining the Rainbows community as a facilitator or a participant, you gain access to an effective and engaging curriculum, a community of peers for those experiencing a loss, and materials and training to help facilitators prepare. Sign up today, and begin your process as a facilitator with Rainbows for All Children.
Helpful Resources for Separation/Divorce
“Crisis Planning and Counseling for Parents with Shared Custody”
Breaks down different family scenarios and challenges as well as a crisis parenting plan with questions to consider while planning.
Families Change: Guide to Separation & Divorce
Guides for parents, teens, and kids to understand and process separation and divorce.
Divorce and Teens
A website dedicated to teenagers with fighting parents, divorcing parents, and divorced parents. It gives answers to questions teens might have or do not know how to ask.
Family & Children’s Services: Divorce Tips
This link provides parents with information on how children respond to divorce and tips for making the transition better for children.
This organization offers education and support services to adults and children experiencing separation or divorce.
Kids In The Middle
This organization empowers children, parents, and families during and after divorce through counseling, education, and support.
Families Change: Guide to Separation & Divorce
Provides parents and caregivers with tools to help children cope with the many transitions related to separation or divorce.
Equity partner/Family Law
Attorney/ Executive Committee
Phone Number: 312-621-9700
Articles and Educational Brochures
Natural Beach Living
Visual Cards for Managing Feelings and Emotions Free Printables
“Separation and Divorce: Helping Parents to Help Children”
by Resolution Family Law
This guide for parents to help children through healthy and unhealthy separation and divorce.
“A Teen Guide to Divorce”
Written by a divorce law firm, this article gives real teenager’s stories with divorce and explains what teens can expect and how to deal with their parents’ divorce.
“Help Your Child Through a Divorce”
by D’Arcy Lyness, Ph.D. from KidsHealth
This article outlines different ways that children respond to and deal with divorce and provides tips on how parents can talk with their child about divorce.
“Minding the Kids in Divorce: Minimizing the Mental Health Impact”
by Michael O. Schroeder from U.S. News and World Report
This article outlines different ways children cope with divorce and ways parents can help their children through the transition.
“Separation and Divorce: Helping Parents to Help Children”
by Resolution First for Family Law
“Co-Parenting 101: Your Guide to a Healthy Family”
This infographic provides a realistic depiction of what separated households look like in the U.S. today. It also lists effective communication tips for co-parents.
Created by: https://www.goldberglawoffice.com/
“Co-Parenting Through COVID-19- Putting Your Children First”
Considerations for two-household families and tips for how co-parents can work together.
“How to Co-Parent During the Coronavirus Pandemic without Losing your Mind”
Tips for communication, planning and taking care of yourself while navigating co-parenting during COVID-19.
“COVID-19 and Divorce Resource Page”
A list of resources for families dealing with divorce during COVID-19.
*Note: not all books only fall under the ages they are listed under. Some with an * can work for older ages as well.
The Healing Code: 6 Minutes to Heal the Source of Your Health, Success, or Relationship Issue
by Ben Johnson
Your healing kit for life—to recover from issues you know about, and repair the ones you don’t.
Buy the book here
by Claire Masurel, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
An optimistic view of separation, where a child has two favorite places, activities, and parents to engage with.
Compassionate Cartoons about Divorce
by Kelly Kamowski, illustrated by Stephanie Piro
A series of one-page comics depicting with wit and compassion the complex emotions of both children and their parents going through a divorce.
The Family Book
by Todd Parr
The Family Book celebrates the love we feel for our families and all the different varieties they come in. Whether you have two moms or two dads, a big family or a small family, a clean family or a messy one, Todd Parr assures readers that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way.
Watch the book read aloud here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIm_H01Z6Ss
My Family’s Changing
by Pat Thomas
This unusual picture book for younger children explores the issue of divorce. The author of this book is a psychotherapist and counselor and helps children to face their fears, worries, and questions when their family is going through a break-up.
When My Parents Forget How to Be Friends
by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos
Young children become confused and hurt when their parents constantly argue, then decide to divorce. This sensitively written book assures boys and girls that children are in no way responsible for their parents’ inability to get along together.
The Invisible String*
by Patrice Karst
The Invisible String delivers a particularly compelling message in today’s uncertain times that though we may be separated from the ones we care for, whether through anger, or distance or even death, love is the unending connection that binds us all, and, by extension, ultimately binds every person on the planet to everyone else.
Buy the book here
What in the World Do You Do When Your Parents Divorce? A Survival Guide for Kids*
by Kent Winchester J.D.
In a simple question-and-answer format, this book gently explains what divorce is, why parents decide to divorce, new living arrangements, how to handle feelings, and other basics to help children understand what’s happening in their lives.
Why Are We Getting a Divorce?
by Peter Mayle, illustrated by Arthur Robbins
Mayle and Robbins focus on the emotional issues surrounding divorce in a down-to-earth, objective way. For instance, why people get married in the first place and what can go wrong, three misconceptions children have about divorce, how to adjust to living with one parent, and how to overcome the profound feelings of loss and hurt every child of divorced parents experiences.
by Ann M. Martin
When Nikki’s father left her family, she thought all the trouble would be over. But now he’s coming back one last time, and Nikki isn’t sure what’s going to happen. Luckily, she has good friends like Flora, Ruby, and Olivia to stand behind her.
Mom’s House, Dad’s House for Kids: Feeling at Home in One Home or Two
by Isolina Ricci Ph.D.
The essential guide for kids on how to stay strong and succeed in life when parents separate, divorce, or get married again. This book is packed with practical tips, frank answers, easy-to-use lists, “train your brain” ideas, reproducible worksheets, and things to try when words just won’t come out right.
What Children Need to Know When Parents Get Divorced
by William L. Coleman
Because it is often hard for children to express feelings, fears, and questions, it is easy to assume they are adjusting and coping with their parents’ divorce—when instead they may feel guilty that they are somehow to blame for the break-up. William L. Coleman provides an honest, understandable, and simple way for concerned adults to broach discussion of this sensitive subject with the children they care about.
The Divorce Express
by Paula Danziger
No one wants to ride the divorce express, especially Phoebe. It means leaving her New York City apartment and friends, moving to the country with her dad, and taking the bus every weekend to visit her mom in the city. It means she has to go to ninth grade in a new school and see her father go on dates. It’s a hectic life with no time to feel she really belongs with the kids in either place. Then, just when she gets a handle on juggling the pieces of her life, her mother makes a decision that will change everything again.
How It Feels When Parents Divorce
by Jill Krementz
Nineteen boys and girls from seven to sixteen years old and from highly diverse backgrounds share with us their deepest feelings about their parents’ divorce. By listening to them, all children of divorced parents can find constructive ways to help themselves through this difficult time.
When Your Parents Split Up: How to Keep Yourself Together (Plugged In)
by Lynn Rosenfield and Joan Shapiro
This upbeat, upfront guide by two divorce mediation and youth psychology experts answers questions with professional advice for coping with change, questionnaires and activities to help you own up to your emotions, listings for 1-800 hotlines and reading references, plus real-life interviews with real-life teens to help you keep yourself together, even if your family is coming apart.
The Divorce Helpbook for Teens
by Cynthia MacGregor
MacGregor knows divorce can be especially tough on teens, and her warm and friendly guide offers a helping hand to teens struggling to answer the tough questions when parents divorce.
Parents and Professionals
Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce
by Elizabeth Marquardt
Elizabeth Marquardt—herself a child of divorce—conducted, with Professor Norval Glenn, a pioneering national study of children of divorce, surveying 1,500 young adults from both divorced and intact families between 2001 and 2003. In Between Two Worlds, she weaves the findings of that study together with powerful, unsentimental stories of the childhoods of young people from divorced families.
The Truth About Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions So You and Your Children Can Thrive
by Robert E. Emery, Ph.D.
Robert Emery applies his twenty-five years of experience as a researcher, therapist, and mediator to offer parents a new road map to divorce. Dr. Emery shows how our powerful emotions and the way we handle them shape how we divorce—and whether our children suffer or thrive in the long run.
by Ellen Bruno
SPLIT is a deeply personal film that explores the effects of divorce on children. The film features twelve children aged 6-12 who explore the often frightening and always life altering separation of their parents.
Divorce, Separation: Love your Children no Matter What…
by Herve G Wery at TEDxTruro
For most people this means the end of love. For Herve it didn’t end with his divorce, because the love he and his ex-wife shared for their daughter remained. Herve explains how he told his daughter about their separation and how this approach is helping other families to minimize the traumatic impact of separation.
The Impact of Divorce on Children
by Tamara D. Afifi at TEDxUCSB
Most of Afifi’s research focuses on how family members cope communicatively with various life challenges they face. When examining her research program, two primary themes emerge: (1) information regulation in parent-child and dating relationships, and (2) communication processes related to uncertainty, loss, stress, and coping in families, with particular emphasis on post-divorce families.
Open Studio Project
The Open Studio Project, located in Evanston, IL, emphasizes the use of art to facilitate growth, healing and understanding.
Institute for Therapy Through the Arts
The institute uses art to conduct therapy sessions. Therapists only use empirically researched methods and provide them within a continuity of care model.
The Family Institute by Northwestern University
This institute offers counseling for families who can’t afford therapy. Therapist of graduate-level therapist-in-training. Committed to strength and healing the whole family system by supporting children, adults, couples and families across their lifespan.
Metropolitan Family Services
From early learning, afterschool and job readiness programs to counseling, mental health services and legal assistance.
Erie Family Health
Provides high quality medical, dental and behavioral healthcare to all regardless of ability to pay.
Largest national bereavement for youth grieving the death of a significant person in their lives.
Move Your Mind
Stress free environments where we can all connect as teens through movement and creative outlets.
Provides affordable mental health services that make lives better for our clients, their families and the community.
This website is helpful to fathers going through divorce and wanting to understand what to do next to keep in touch with their children.
Children’s therapy toys and other resources
Evanston/North Chicago Yoga
Find More Resources
We provide resources for all forms of grief.
Of all the children in America, around 15% will experience the death of a family member or sibling. Even though death is ultimately a fact of life, it can be hard for anyone to experience this kind of loss, let alone a child.
There are about 1.25 million divorces per year in the United States. Of all U.S. children, 50% will witness the breakup of their parents’ marriage, and almost 50% of those children will also see the breakup of a parent’s second marriage.
One in 28 children will have a parent become incarcerated before their 18th birthday. Approximately half of children with incarcerated parents are younger than 10 years old.
When a parent, caregiver or sibling is deported, or even when there is the threat of deportation, the whole family suffers.
Parental deployment is a form of loss that 3% of American children experience. This can be a very difficult adjustment for children, who may not be able to see or speak to that parent regularly, and may also experience a great deal of stress when worried about their parent or guardian’s safety.
A child coping with the significant illness of a parent, caregiver or sibling can face many challenges.
Community crises, such as natural disasters, pandemics or political unrest, cause confusing emotions for children. Rainbows’ programs can help children navigate difficult times and provide a sense of stability.
Find A Support Group
Rainbows’ programs help children grieving the loss of a parent or guardian due to death, divorce/separation, deployment, deportation, incarceration or trauma.