Divorce is always a messy subject complicated by emotions and possessions.  It gets even more difficult when children are involved.  How a couple deals with divorce, along with the child’s age, may have some bearing on how the child or children cope.

Even though emotions can run hot while a couple is in the midst of a divorce, it is essential to put your children first.  The temptation to put them in the middle, or to use them as leverage, will only end up hurting the kids.  It can also lead to the children mistrusting the parents later in life.

New research, in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, shows that younger children have a harder time with divorce than older children.  Also, kids who had strong relationships with their parents before the divorce fare better than those who did not.  The stronger the relationship and bond, the more the child feels he or she can trust the parents.

Other findings included the fact that those from divorced families experienced slightly greater anxiety about romantic relationships, experienced greater insecurity with relationships with fathers, and yet, the relationship was more secure if the person lived with their father.

It may not come as a surprise that “something as basic as the amount of time that one spends with a parent, or one’s living arrangements, can shape the quality of child-parent relationships,” said researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

When entrepreneur Keith Krach and his former wife divorced two years ago, there were major adjustments the family needed to make.  Krach not only runs an investment company but has joint custody of three children, one of whom is at Princeton.  With the other two, they split their time with their mother and father 50 percent.  They alternate weeks with mom and dad so that they do not miss out on spending time with either one.

Divorce can be hard on children, but if you make a commitment to put them first, it can be easier.  That may mean delaying meetings or temporarily putting work on hold.

“I’ve always had a very interesting life and travel a lot, but my highest priority is my kids,” Keith Krach says. “I will change anything on my schedule for them. The time I cherish most is with them.”

One thing he feels makes a big difference is communication.  It “is absolutely key, and making sure you have a big family calendar is a necessity,” says Keith Krach.

Divorce will never be easy for anyone.  It’s important to try to be as grown-up about it as possible.  Talk to your kids about it, and try to include them in the conversation.  Let them know that you will be there to talk any time.

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