A Want List from Children of Divorcing Parents

Parental Divorce | DivorceAdviceForChildren.comWhen parents separate or go through a divorce, it might feel like uncharted territory. It might feel like you’re not sure what to say to your children because of anger, shame, resentment, and frustration that surrounds your relationship with your spouse.

However, the absence of your comforting words and support can make children feel like the divorce is their fault. It’s important that throughout the tumultuousness of the change, you help your children feel loved, support, and wanted. Because otherwise, they’ll feel unloved, unsupported, and unwanted.

In fact, the University of Missouri did a survey of children experiencing parental divorce. Based upon their responses, researchers developed the following want list from children of divorcing parents: Continue reading

Kids: Here’s How To Cope with Anxiety and Depression During Divorce

Anxiety and Depression | DivorceAdviceForChildren.comIf you’re parents are going through a divorce, you might be having a difficult time. You might be feeling how this could significantly affect your life. Instead of having a family unit that’s together and close and working as one, you might feel the split and separation of your parents breaking apart.

The following are some basic suggestions that might be useful. It’s hard because as children you’re the ones who need the protection, love, and security of having a family. And yet, your parents might not be able to provide that for you. Your parents might be too caught up in their own feelings to be able to ensure that you’re feeling safe in the middle of the chaos. Continue reading

Supporting Your Child Through Grief During Divorce

It’s important for all children to have structure. When the foundation of a family is threatened, the psychological and emotional well being of children can also be threatened. Divorce can lead to intense emotions of loss, depression, sadness, anger, and resentment.

Research shows that children who experience a divorce suffer in their self-esteem, academic performance, peer relationships, behavior, and physical health. It might be obvious that mental health issues also begin to surface such as anxiety and depression. Furthermore, the instability of the family structure might lead to drug experimentation and using substances as a way to cope with difficult feelings.

These challenging emotions might include embarrassment, fear of abandonment, grief, worry about the parents’ well being, anxiety about divided loyalties, and an irrational optimism for reconciliation.

Elisabeth Kübler Ross | DivorceAdviceForChildren.comWhen addressing the concerns of children, many people who have had any experience with grief counseling likely have heard of the psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kubler Ross. She developed five distinct stages to the grieving process based on her long-time work with her own clients. These stages form the acronym DABDA for easy recollection in their order. They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Initially, she formulated these stages as a result of observing adults suffering from a terminal illness. Later, she found that her theory also applied to anyone who has experienced a major loss, such as a death of a loved one, loss of a job or income, divorce, drug addiction, incarceration, or other losses, even minor ones.

These stages are:

  1. Denial – The first stage is a sort of defense mechanism that helps with managing the shock of the event. The one who is grieving will often completely disregard of the event or loss. Thoughts might include, “I feel fine,” or “This is not happening to me.” There is a tendency to block out any signs that point to the fact that the event took place. Ignoring the event is a way to handle the intensity of the loss.
  2. Anger – Moving into the second stage indicates that the reality of the event is beginning to have its impact. However, anger arises from an inability to accept the loss. Intense emotions develop as a result, leaving the griever feeling vulnerable, overwhelmed with feelings that he or she cannot manage, and helpless. The result is anger that gets directed at close relatives, family members, strangers, and even inanimate objects.
  3. Bargaining – As the feeling of helplessness continues, an individual who is grieving will attempt to regain control by bargaining with a higher power. Thoughts such as, “If only I had sought medical attention sooner,” or “If only I were a better person”. This stage is a move closer to accepting the loss, but the painful emotions remain.
  4. Depression – The intense feelings that have accompanied the loss finally settle in. This stage might include intense crying, isolation, and withdrawal. Although it might be tempting to try to cheer up anyone who is grieving, the better support is to provide the space they need. It is important that the emotions that arise, which might include sadness, regret, fear, and uncertainty are actually felt. Finally feeling these emotions is a way of accepting the loss.
  5. Acceptance – The last stage is an experience of finally coming to terms with the loss. A thought that might accompany this stage is “It’s going to be okay.”

 

You can remember these stages in their order by using the acronym DABDA. Sharing these stages with your children is a way to help him or her move through a process of grieving. Furthermore, knowing what these stages are can help children fully resolve each stage rather than getting stuck in a particular phase, such as anger. Regardless of the nature of the loss, it helps to have a map of the challenging road that grieving presents.

 

Divorce Etiquette: The Book To Hand Your Parents When They Separate

Divorce Etiquette

Sometimes, as teens, you might have a clearer view than your parents. Besides, your smart and you’re not jaded by the life experiences that your parents might be. Add to that the fact that they are in the middle of a divorce and you just might be able to see the forest through the trees.

This isn’t to say that you won’t have your own problems with your parents divorcing. There’s a good chance you will. But you might just be able to see through that pain to help your parents along. And if this is the case, you might want to know about a book written by clinical psychologist, Jann Blackstone-Ford and the ex-wife of her current husband, Sharyl Jupe. Together, they outlined an approach to getting along with ex-spouses for the sake of the child. And what they emphasize for parents – and here’s where you can advocate for yourself – is to put the children first.

The book is titled Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After a Divorce or Separation, written in 2010, and it encourages parents to take full responsibility for the effects of divorce on their children. The authors of this book witnessed the widespread damage of divorce on children and teens and experienced firsthand the difficulties of blending families. The book encourages parents to take responsibility for their choices and stop damaging their children with emotional outbursts and attempts at revenge.

The book highlights the need for parents to change their point of view – from theirs to the children. That means you! And this book also points out that the love a parent has for their children should come before his or her own pain.

Now you probably don’t want to say that outright, but you could simply and casually let your parents know that, hey, there’s a book you want them to read. Besides, as you can imagine, divorce can have significant impacts on you and the rest of the family. The consequences for teens bring considerable concern that warrants attention, tenderness, and care, and parents need to tend to that. For instance, the emotional costs suffered by children whose parents divorce include embarrassment, fear of abandonment, grief over loss, irrational hope of reconciliation, worry about their parents’ well-being, anxiety about divided loyalties, and uncertainty about romantic relationships.

But if you’re not affected by all that, or worse, blinded by it, perhaps you can facilitate an easy transition through the divorce. To facilitate this the authors lay out a of guidelines to follow, based on ethical behavior:

  • Put the children first.
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • No badmouthing.
  • Biological parents make the rules; bonus parents uphold them.
  • Don’t be spiteful.
  • Don’t hold grudges.
  • Use empathy when problem solving.
  • Be honest and straightforward.
  • Respect each other’s turf.
  • Compromise whenever possible.

In America, the current rate of divorce is 3.8% per 1000 people. At the same time, the divorce rates over the last 2 decades have steadily declined, partially due to an increase in cohabitation. Yet, research shows that children with divorced parents fared worse in terms of self-esteem, academic performance, peer relationships, behavioral problems, physical health, and depression and anxiety than children whose parents were continuously married.

If you are beginning to see the effects of the divorce on you and the rest of the family, perhaps these 10 guidelines listed above can make it easier. If followed by your parents (assuming they read the book), these guidelines could facilitate an easy transition to a post-divorce experience.

Of course, for you as the teen, all of this is shaky ground to navigate. Yet, if your parents can keep you close and make you their first priority, then the road through divorce might not feel so tumultuous.

Girls: Stay Close To Your Parents During Divorce

DivorceYou might get mad, hate them, and swear that you’re never going to speak to them again. You might feel broken in a way that you haven’t before.

The truth is for girls and female teens, relationships are important. This is not to say that relationships aren’t important for boys too; they are. But research shows that divorce can have a stronger negative impact on teenage girls, who tend to define themselves through relationships, connection to others, and bonds with friends and family. For this reason, although you hate them, see if you can find a way to communicate your feelings and fears. Find a way to keep your relationship with your parents close.

When the structure of a girl’s family, a structure they’ve known throughout their lives is disrupted, an internal structure is also at risk for breaking down. Girls tend to be socialized by their mothers and tend to be more obedient and responsible than boys. Because of this, you might keep your emotions to yourself. You might conceal how you really feeling in order to tend to your mother’s (or father’s) adjustment to the change and make the appearance that everything is all right.

However, although you might conceal your feelings, you might also have a delayed reaction to your emotions, which might later come on quietly. For instance, some girls might feel shame, which can lead to low self-esteem, and self blame. This might also lead to choosing partners that do not treat you the way you should be treated and having unhealthy relationships.

The strong relationships a daughter has with each of her parents can provide a buffer to the intensity of a divorce. Supportive parents can help weather the stormy home life of a divorce. They can help maintain or at least re-build the stability that girls need. But if your family also has domestic violence or other forms of family violence, such as child abuse or emotional abuse, it will be more difficult for girls to get the steadiness they need. Children, including boys, need structure. When the family unit is broken, that structure deteriorates.

Girls, to be able to make it through divorce of your parents, especially when other factors exist in the family, like addiction or domestic violence, it’s important to get outside help. Find a mental health professional to work with, a support group, or other means of professional help.

And throughout it all, your individual relationships with your parents are important. The relationship you have with her mother is significant. For some girls, the mother-daughter relationship suffers after divorce. However, if you have a strong bond from the beginning, that bond can serve as a protective factor during the split. This is also true for your relationship with your father. Since most girls will side with their mother during a divorce, a young girl might have significant issues of trust if she is not able to heal her relationship with her father before, during, or after a divorce.

Although it’s challenging, keep your relationships with each of your parents alive. Continue to share your feelings, your fears, your frustrations. Doing so will only bring you closer.

If Your Parents Are Divorcing, Don’t Do Drugs, Try This

Support GroupIf your parents are going through a divorce, there’s a lot you must be feeling. There’s a lot you’re probably going through. Although there’s very little that can actually take the pain away, there are many resources that can help you manage the pain. And that’s what this article will provide. It will give you some resources so that you can help yourself get through a challenging time.

First, you should know that depending on your age, you’re going to experience different things. As you can imagine, divorce can have significant impacts on the children of the family. However, those influences depend on the age(s) of the children, and they are far more significant if children are under the age of 5. Nonetheless, the consequences for pre-teens and adolescents can create a lot of havoc. There are significant concerns for teens as a result of divorce, even without notice at first, that warrants attention, tenderness, and care. For example, depression might arise slowly and get more serious over time if not tended to. The point is depending on your age, you might be feeling more of an impact from the divorce.

Research shows that pre-teens and adolescents who experience a divorce suffer in their self-esteem, academic performance, peer relationships, behavior, and physical health. It might be obvious that mental health issues also begin to surface such as teen anxiety and teen depression. Suddenly, you might feel an instability in the family structure. You might feel as though you’re free to try what you want. You might think to yourself, “Well, my parents are caught up in the divorce, so they won’t notice the drug experimentation that I do.”

But don’t let yourself be fooled by this. Even though you might be pulled to use drugs, especially because they can feel like a way to cope with difficult feelings, those drugs are dangerous and could lead to addiction, poor grades, risky situations, ruined friendships, and self-harm. Here’s what can happen as a result of divorce, and drugs can only make it worse:

  • Academic problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Stress and worry
  • Sadness or anger towards one or both parents
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Ideation and perhaps attempts
  • Having trouble with authority at school or with the police
  • Trouble getting along with siblings, peers, and parents
  • Getting involved with sexual activity

 

Yes, the divorce your parents are going through can create challenging emotions in you like embarrassment, fear that your parents will abandon you, grief, worry about your parents’ well being, anxiety about who you’re going to live with, fear that one of your parents will forget about you, and maybe even an unrealistic hope that your parents will get back together, setting you up for disappointment. Despite all of these feelings, don’t let drugs be your coping mechanism. Instead, try the items listed below.

  • Join a support group of other children your age whose parents are going through a divorce.
  • Find a mental health professional and start attending therapy. This can be a way to get your feelings out with someone you can trust.
  • Find friends whose parents went through a divorce. Talk to them and find out what it was like for them.
  • Journal, write poetry, dance, draw. Art can be a way to get your feelings out too.

Research also shows that divorce can have a stronger negative impact than other events like moving, a new sibling in the family, the death of a family member, or illness. Because it can be so challenging, it’s important to get the help  you need. See if you can find a teacher, counselor, or another adult you trust to support you.

 

Girls: Stay Close To Your Parents During Divorce

You might get mad, hate them, and swear that you’re never going to speak to them again. You might feel broken in a way that you haven’t before.

The truth is for girls and female teens, relationships are important. This is not to say that relationships aren’t important for boys too; they are. But research shows that divorce can have a stronger negative impact on teenage girls, who tend to define themselves through relationships, connection to others, and bonds with friends and family. For this reason, although you hate them, see if you can find a way to communicate your feelings and fears. Find a way to keep your relationship with your parents close.

When the structure of a girl’s family, a structure they’ve known throughout their lives is disrupted, an internal structure is also at risk for breaking down. Girls tend to be socialized by their mothers and tend to be more obedient and responsible than boys. Because of this, you might keep your emotions to yourself. You might conceal how you really feeling in order to tend to your mother’s (or father’s) adjustment to the change and make the appearance that everything is all right.

However, although you might conceal your feelings, you might also have a delayed reaction to your emotions, which might later come on quietly. For instance, some girls might feel shame, which can lead to low self-esteem, and self blame. This might also lead to choosing partners that do not treat you the way you should be treated and having unhealthy relationships.

The strong relationships a daughter has with each of her parents can provide a buffer to the intensity of a divorce. Supportive parents can help weather the stormy home life of a divorce. They can help maintain or at least re-build the stability that girls need. But if your family also has domestic violence or other forms of family violence, such as child abuse or emotional abuse, it will be more difficult for girls to get the steadiness they need. Children, including boys, need structure. When the family unit is broken, that structure deteriorates.

Girls, to be able to make it through divorce of your parents, especially when other factors exist in the family, like addiction or domestic violence, it’s important to get outside help. Find a mental health professional to work with, a support group, or other means of professional help.

And throughout it all, your individual relationships with your parents are important. The relationship you have with her mother is significant. For some girls, the mother-daughter relationship suffers after divorce. However, if you have a strong bond from the beginning, that bond can serve as a protective factor during the split. This is also true for your relationship with your father. Since most girls will side with their mother during a divorce, a young girl might have significant issues of trust if she is not able to heal her relationship with her father before, during, or after a divorce.

Although it’s challenging, keep your relationships with each of your parents alive. Continue to share your feelings, your fears, your frustrations. Doing so will only bring you closer.

Group Therapy Can Help When Your Parents Divorce

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. You don’t like therapy – it’s too corny, it’s lame, and it doesn’t actually work.

Alright, this might be your first reaction, but have you ever tried group therapy? Have you ever been in a group of kids your age who are all talking about the same thing? Imagine being in a circle and everyone else is talking about how their parents are divorcing too. Even the ones who seem to have it altogether are saying how hard it is and what they’re doing to cope. Imagine what it would be like to hear from someone else, your age, the exact feelings your feeling yourself. Imagine what a relief that would be.

“I think the hardest thing about divorce,” said a 17-year old girl from New York, “is that you find out your parents aren’t perfect. I saw my mom crying and my dad screaming. My father burned my books because he thought my mother was influencing me to read them.”

What’s great about group therapy is that you get to hear what you may not be able to express yourself. You might be feeling incredibly sad, and then when one of your friends in the circle says, “Gosh, it’s been so hard, and I feel so sad that my family is breaking up,” it might feel like a weight has been lifted. Plus, hearing this might give you the freedom to finally say what has been hard for you to express. And finally being able to say what you couldn’t up until now can be incredibly healing.

So, what is group therapy?

It’s a unique form of therapy where the benefits come from not only the relationship with the therapist, as in individual therapy, but also from the other participants in the group. Basically, there is one or more therapist, psychologist, social worker or other mental health professional facilitating treatment for a group of children. Participants of group therapy usually experience the same diagnosis or life challenge, like in this case, parents divorcing. Typically, everyone in the room, aside from the therapist, is experiencing the same struggle, which is why the group can become a supportive community. Group therapy for children of parents who are getting a divorce can be incredibly helpful and healing.

The greatest part about group therapy is the community. In a community of others who are struggling with the same life challenge, you can find support, love, friendship, and safety. In the community of a group, you might be able to make it through the divorce your parents are going through.

If Your Parents Are Divorcing, Don’t Do Drugs, Try This

If your parents are going through a divorce, there’s a lot you must be feeling. There’s a lot you’re probably going through. Although there’s very little that can actually take the pain away, there are many resources that can help you manage the pain. And that’s what this article will provide. It will give you some resources so that you can help yourself get through a challenging time.

First, you should know that depending on your age, you’re going to experience different things. As you can imagine, divorce can have significant impacts on the children of the family. However, those influences depend on the age(s) of the children, and they are far more significant if children are under the age of 5. Nonetheless, the consequences for pre-teens and adolescents can create a lot of havoc. There are significant concerns for teens as a result of divorce, even without notice at first, that warrants attention, tenderness, and care. For example, depression might arise slowly and get more serious over time if not tended to. The point is depending on your age, you might be feeling more of an impact from the divorce.

Research shows that pre-teens and adolescents who experience a divorce suffer in their self-esteem, academic performance, peer relationships, behavior, and physical health. It might be obvious that mental health issues also begin to surface such as teen anxiety and teen depression. Suddenly, you might feel an instability in the family structure. You might feel as though you’re free to try what you want. You might think to yourself, “Well, my parents are caught up in the divorce, so they won’t notice the drug experimentation that I do.”

But don’t let yourself be fooled by this. Even though you might be pulled to use drugs, especially because they can feel like a way to cope with difficult feelings, those drugs are dangerous and could lead to addiction, poor grades, risky situations, ruined friendships, and self-harm. Here’s what can happen as a result of divorce, and drugs can only make it worse:

  • Academic problems
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Stress and worry
  • Sadness or anger towards one or both parents
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Ideation and perhaps attempts
  • Having trouble with authority at school or with the police
  • Trouble getting along with siblings, peers, and parents
  • Getting involved with sexual activity

 

Yes, the divorce your parents are going through can create challenging emotions in you like embarrassment, fear that your parents will abandon you, grief, worry about your parents’ well being, anxiety about who you’re going to live with, fear that one of your parents will forget about you, and maybe even an unrealistic hope that your parents will get back together, setting you up for disappointment. Despite all of these feelings, don’t let drugs be your coping mechanism. Instead, try the items listed below.

  • Join a support group of other children your age whose parents are going through a divorce.
  • Find a mental health professional and start attending therapy. This can be a way to get your feelings out with someone you can trust.
  • Find friends whose parents went through a divorce. Talk to them and find out what it was like for them.
  • Journal, write poetry, dance, draw. Art can be a way to get your feelings out too.

Research also shows that divorce can have a stronger negative impact than other events like moving, a new sibling in the family, the death of a family member, or illness. Because it can be so challenging, it’s important to get the help you need. See if you can find a teacher, counselor, or another adult you trust to support you.

Five Needs Children Have During and After A Divorce

A child’s psychological needs increase dramatically during and after a parental divorce. Because they are living in the center of what might feel like an emotional roller coaster, their psychological needs for safety, acceptance, and love dramatically increase. It’s essential that divorcing parents are aware of the growing needs of their children while they move through the divorce process. In fact, if they can remember to put the children first, the impact of divorce will not be as severe.

 

Dr. Phil, a popular psychologist and TV show facilitator, recently wrote a book titled, Family First: Your Step-by-Step Plan for Creating a Phenomenal Family. In his book, he makes clear the intense needs of children as they experience their parents separate. Because it’s a time when children are feeling the impact of the relationship crisis between their parents, they may feel guilt, fear, confusion, and even shame.

 

Parents should make it a goal to put the children first to avoid having them bear the burden of the breakup. The following is a list of needs that children have while parents experience a divorce.

 

Need for Acceptance
Children’s need for acceptance may dramatically increase during a divorce because the structure that held them since birth is breaking apart. In fact, this need may be the greatest that they have while a divorce is happening. A child’s sense of self may become very fragile, especially if they are at a young age. They will yearn for approval, belonging, and acceptance by both parents. Some children may begin to give up some of their own needs in order save the marriage. “If we don’t make noise,” children may think to themselves while parents are fighting, “perhaps they will stop. However, what they really need to know is that they will be loved and accepted by both parents regardless of what happens.

 

Need for Structure and Safety  

When children feel the structure of their home and family unit, they feel safe. Now that the leaders of the home are separating, their need for structure and safety will get stronger. Parents might need to consistently communicate that their children are safe and secure regardless of what happens. They need to know that life will continue to be predictable and that any changes that take place they will know about.

 

Need to Be Free of Guilt or Blame
Sadly, children often bear the weight of a breaking marriage. However, they need to know that they are in no way to blame for what is going on in the marriage. Children might think that because they misbehaved or because they did something wrong, the divorce is happening as a result. Parents should be sure to communicate the opposite.

 

Need For A Stable Parent

Even though separation is difficult, parents need to continue to appear strong for their children. Strength of character, love, and presence for children need to continue despite the relationship crisis. Children will in fact be worried about their parents and they need to be reassured that those who care for them are still strong enough to meet their needs.

Need To Let Children be Children

Lastly, children should not have to take on the job of caring for their parents. When parents become emotionally troubled, they can sometimes turn to their children for love and support. However, children need to continue to be children. They shouldn’t have to bear the burden of their parent’s emotional needs. It should remain the other way around.

 

If parents can tend to these needs of their children, a divorce won’t negatively impact their psychological or emotional well being.