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Some divorcing parents aim to ease the pain for children

Divorce is at its lowest rate since 1970. However, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, over a million children in the U.S. in 2009 lived with a parent who had divorced the previous year. In essence, divorce in the family is still not uncommon for children to see firsthand.

Many adults are skittish about getting married because they have bad memories of their parents divorcing. And some couples who get divorced remember what it was like to experience it as a child, and they don't want their children to go through it the same way.

One family therapist recommends that couples going through a divorce create a parenting plan. Such plans would focus both on custody arrangements and day-to-day parenting decisions.

Some also recommend talking to kids about what happened, perhaps by telling a "short story" about why the marriage ended.

According to the Wall Street Journal, another way to minimize the feeling of change is to keep each child's routine the same, even when living in two different households. Some therapists also advise parents to say nice things about each other and make sure the children know it's okay to love both parents.

The Wall Street Journal chronicles one divorcing couple. They both experienced divorce as kids, and didn't want their daughters to feel the same pain. They had felt torn between their parents. So they agreed to make their daughters' needs their first priority.

That may just be the key to maintaining a healthy family unit, even one that spans multiple households.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "The child-focused divorce," Elizabeth Bernstein, Sept. 6, 2011

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