Sometimes in the aftermath of a divorce, spouses can get so caught up in their own quarrel that they don’t realize what chaotic situation they are putting their children in. After all, hearing both parents constantly degrade one another is sure to impact the child’s views on both parents. For children, they can sometimes get the feeling that they have just went through their own divorce; they feel like they are slowly losing one of their parents.

You have built a family centered on a consistent two-parent system, and changing something that your children have grown used to will be undoubtedly stressful on them. While some stress may be unavoidable, a great deal of it can be avoided. There are things you can do or refrain from doing, to limit the amount of stress and negative effects your children have to endure.

You should avoid confiding in your children about adult concerns and disagreements with your spouse. If you have a dispute with your ex-spouse, don’t expose your children to your conflicts and frustration. Doing so could lead to your child having negative thoughts about their other parent, and could make them feel like they have to pick sides. You should also avoid interrogating your child about the other parent or what goes on at the other parent’s house. It’s normal to ask general questions about your child’s time there, but you shouldn’t pry. Encourage your children to call the other parent when they have news or just want to talk. Keep the other parent informed about school events and other activities. Do as much as you can to show your children that their other parent will be a major part of their life moving forward.

Don’t introduce major changes into your child’s life if you can help it. Try to keep to your usual family routines and community ties. Consistency and structure makes people in general comfortable, this is especially true with children. If you can keep their life as close to status quo as possible, they won’t feel like their world is being flipped upside down. Continue to parent as you always have. You may feel guilty that your children have to cope with divorce, but you should resist the urge to be more lenient on them. They’ll feel more secure if you’re firm and consistent.

If you and your ex struggle to interact without hostility, it’s a good idea to consult a therapist. A family therapist or professional mediator can help you develop a more friendly communication style. Since you have years of co-parenting ahead of you, learning to get along with your ex may be the greatest gift you can give your child. If your child sees that his or her parents are able to interact in a cordial way, it will allow him to feel like everything is okay. It’s also a good idea to get help for a child that is having trouble coping with divorce. A young child may show regressive behavior like excessive clinginess or throwing temper tantrums, while an older child may become angry, withdrawn, or depressed. A therapist can provide a safe place for your child to express his or her feelings, which will go a long way in terms of coping.