When my son, Jake, was 18 months old, he stood at the basement door and repeatedly called out, "Dada." But his dad, who had previously been working on a carpentry project in the basement, had moved out. Because Jake was a late talker, "Dada" was the only word he could communicate at the time. But it was obvious, already, that his father's absence was affecting him.
The first few years of divorce are usually the most stressful on children (and parents, too), but research shows that they don't have to be damaged by it. In fact, some studies suggest that divorce doesn't necessarily harm kids or affect their adult relationships, but rather the fighting in a bad marriage does. If you're a divorced (or separated) parent, feel good knowing that you've already protected your child from conflict between you and your ex. Now, during life after separation, your goal as a parent is to keep a sense of normalcy for your child. Here's where to start: