One out of every two marriages in America ends in divorce. That fact doesn’t make it any easier for girls—and their parents—but it does mean that there are lots of other kids—and their parents—around who have made the kind of changes your family is facing now. If they could do it, you and your family can, too. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Help your girl understand divorce is a process. It’s not over in a day or a week. It takes a long time. If you are in the middle of a divorce right now, your girl may be so upset she feels as if her head’s on fire. But that doesn’t mean she’ll feel like this forever. Time helps. Emotions cool. Situations change. And when you see positive changes happening and emotions lightening, gently point those moments out to your girl.
Divorce can’t erase the past. You and your partner may not love each other now, but you loved each other once. Your girl came from that love, and it lives on in her. Remind your girl of the love you have for her—and always will. Divorce doesn’t predict the future, either. Help your girl understand that divorce doesn’t determine who she is and what she can do in life.
Whether you split up last week or five years ago, if something is on your girl’s mind, encourage her to say so. Get her to talk to you or her siblings. Point her to a trusted adult—a favorite cousin, her Aunt Sue, her best friend’s mom or dad. Talk to her teacher or a counselor at school, and see if your girl can check in with them from time to time. Talking makes all of us feel better—simple as that. It relieves bad feelings. It helps your girl figure out what she thinks, and it will help her to heal.
Adapted from A Smart Girl’s Guide to Her Parents’ Divorce,
American Girl wants to see your girls thrive, and our advice library offers titles to help you and your girl navigate the ups and downs of growing up.