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Why routines are so important for children of divorce

Every parent worries and ultimately wants what's best for his or her child. For parents who choose to divorce, concerns related to a child's emotional, mental and even physical wellbeing are often magnified. For parents who are separated, going through a divorce or divorced; it's important to understand how even seemingly small changes can have a big impact on a child's life.

Children of all ages need to feel loved, safe and secure. When a child's parents no longer live together, he or she is subject to numerous changes including those related to one's day-to-day schedule. Changes that frequently accompany divorce include those to a child’s living arrangements, schooling and economic standing. These types of significant changes may be difficult for anyone to handle and, for a child, can result in feelings of anxiety and insecurity.

To help a child feel more secure, it's critical that divorced parents work to establish a set schedule and predictable routine upon which a child can rely. To accomplish this, parents would be wise to discuss specifics related to a child’s schedule including after-school activities, homework and bed time routines and try to maintain consistency as a child moves between homes.

Research shows that meal times can be an integral part of a child's routine and provide a time when families, of all compositions, can come together to discuss their day. Studies indicate that kids who regularly eat with their family "are more likely to have family support, positive peer influences and positive adult role models."

In cases where a child is having a particularly difficult time coping with or adjusting to his or her parents' divorce, it’s important to seek the advice and guidance of a professional counselor or therapist.

Source: Kids Health, "Helping Your Child Through a Divorce," March 12, 2015

SourcE: University of Florida, "Raising Healthy Children: The Importance of Family Meals," Anghela Z. Paredes, Eshani Persaud and Karla P. Shelnutt, March 12, 2015

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