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Dogs and divorce: How kids can benefit

Divorce can have a profound effect on a child. The sense of displacement, the lack of order and routine, the disruption of family structure. These things can leave a kid feeling isolated and powerless, depressed and anxious. The psychological effects on children following their parents’ divorce lifetime.

Other problems children of divorce might encounter include a greater risk of mental health issues, behavioral problems and academic difficulties. But there are ways to soften these painful, and sometimes long-lasting, problems. Here are a few of them:

  • Counseling: Individual counseling can give your child of any age the opportunity to discuss the divorce and home life in an objective setting.
  • Civility: Divorce is a trying time for every family member. As parents, it is your responsibility to keep the peace in front of your child—they should witness as little conflict as possible.
  • New relationships: If one or more parents consider entering into a new relationship at this time, they should be extra careful in their vetting process. Children of all ages can be extremely sensitive to new partners.
  • Awareness: For your child’s sake, be aware that your relationship is not ending with your divorce—it’s changing. This mindset can help you and your child cope together.

If there’s a family dog in the picture, however, it could really help your child cope.

Not just man’s best friend

The previous guidelines—along with healthy co-parenting and taking time to ensure your child feels safe and empowered—are fairly standard. What you may not know is how beneficial a family dog can be in mitigating a child’s psychological and behavioral problems during a divorce.

Here are some benefits of having a dog during divorce:

  • Friendship: Divorce can leave children feeling isolated and lonely. Dogs offer companionship and support, making kids feel less depressed and stressed.
  • Health: Dogs are great in helping maintain good physical health. They love being active, which keeps your kids active too.
  • Responsibility: Caring for a dog can help teach children responsibility. Also, a 2017 study linked pet ownership with a child’s development
  • Stability: Dogs are incredibly supportive. This provides a potentially fearful or confused child with some much-needed reliability.
  • Unconditional love: Household turbulence aside, man’s (or child’s) best friend can provide a child with unconditional love, no matter what. In the event of family disruption, this can be essential.

When you’re thinking about adding a dog to your home, remember to do your research. Some breeds—beagles, Bernese mountain dogs (provided you have the space), labradors, golden retrievers, and others—are great for families with kids. Others—chihuahuas, greyhounds, pekingese, rottweilers, and others—may not be. Do your research. You want what’s best for your child and their new best friend.

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