Children look to their parents for stability, routine, and love. When the parents’ marriage breaks down, children react to this sudden change in their family structure in numerous ways. Parents who want to help their children through this change and continue to provide the love and support their kids desire should first learn what children experience during divorce.
Blame and Guilt
When kids first learn that their parents are getting divorced, they often blame themselves and wonder if they have done something to cause the break up of the marriage. They may think that because they disobeyed or failed to clean up their room that they somehow contributed to the divorce.
When they have convinced themselves that they are to blame, at least to some degree, children may also feel guilty. They may think that if they had just behaved better or somehow acted differently that their parents may still want to be together.
During a divorce, one of your primary concerns as a parent will be your child’s adjustment to the new living arrangements. While some children sail through divorce with little difficulty, others may struggle long after the divorce is final. If your child is exhibiting new behaviors that are cause for concern, then here is how to tell if it may be necessary to visit a professional for support.
Signs a Child Is Struggling with Divorce
It is common for children to show some signs of distress during the divorce process; however these symptoms should clear up within a short period of time. If you notice that any of the symptoms described below are lingering or interfere with your child’s ability to function, then divorce counseling may be necessary.
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Separation anxiety
- Lack of interest in friends and normal activities
- Excessive lying
- Deteriorating school performance
- Refusal to comply with house rules
- Physical complaints with no obvious cause
- Potty training regression in younger children
- Risky or aggressive behaviors
- Overeating, skipping meals or excessive exercise
- Drug abuse
- Breaking laws
Children of Divorce
Divorce is one of the most stressful things adults and children experience. The severity of the effects of divorce on children depends on many issues. These include:
. Emotional attitudes of parents
. Financial situation
. Age of children
Emotional Attitudes of Parents
These are just a few of the issues to consider that affect children of divorce. The most significant issue is the emotional attitudes of parents. Some divorcing parents manage to maintain civility and mature attitudes throughout the divorce process. This is always the best environment for children of divorcing parents. When hostility between parents is obvious, even non-verbal hostility is observed by children. This often creates hurtful, fearful feelings for younger children.
Divorce is one of the most difficult experiences a family can go through. This is especially true if there are children involved.It is important to realize that just as no two people are alike, no two families are alike. Therefore, there are several strategies that might prove helpful to you or your family during a difficult transitional time in your life. Here are a few tips to help foster healing:
1.Encourage Honest Discussions
If there are children involved in the divorce, it is always best to encourage open discussions in an environment that is calm and safe. Each member of the family should feel as if he or she has the freedom to express unique feelings and concerns about the matter. Children should have the opportunity to address each other as well as the parents. During these conversations, it is important that adult conflicts are left off the table, and the main focus be meeting the needs of each family member during the change.
- Be Open to Resistance
It is very likely that your children will show signs of despair, anger, confusion, or any combination of emotion during this time. The best quality to exhibit in this case is patience. Be open to listening to all of your child’s concerns and worries. Just as your world is changing, so is your child’s, and often he or she is not able to see immediately the bigger picture. Continue reading
It is difficult to navigate your family through a divorce without leaving someone scathed and hurting. It is, however, not impossible, and with the proper preparation parents can make a divorce into a positive event rather than something catastrophically devastating for their children. Ease the transition for adults and children alike by reading up on advice such as the following.
3 Quick Tips
First, keep in mind that every family is different. No two people are completely the same, and when more than two people are involved, things can sometimes get messy, and even more quickly can they get ugly. Staying patient, calm, and flexible throughout can help smooth the path towards building a new future together as a different family. Continue reading
Small children understand less about divorce and might not be able to communicate their fears as well as older children. The age a child is at when his or her parents divorce influences response and understanding. Here is a brief summary of what children comprehending the years before grade school and how parents can make the event less upsetting.
Babies can sense tension and may become petulant, anxious and have tantrums if it persists. Developmental delay or regressions might also occur in some cases. Maintain stability by:
- Sticking to a consistent schedule
- Doling out extra hugs, kisses and reassurances
- Providing access to security stuffies and favorite toys
- Asking trusted family and friends for help
- Getting lots of rest so you can be on your parenting game
The teen years are tough enough without going through a major trauma, so it is important to recognize the impact divorce can have on a teenager when the storm hits. Here are a few ways to help your teen cope with the divorce of their parents.
Understand that a teenager needs time to process what is going on and will have a full range of emotions to go through. Be patient and allow them the opportunity to express themselves. Give them the flexibility of swinging from one emotion to another as they figure out how to deal with their new reality with the assurance that they are loved unconditionally. Continue reading
When the relationship between mom and dad is dissolving, it is important to reaffirm and strengthen relationships between parent and child. Scheduling regular time for fun and relaxation together will help you connect with your child. As you focus on your child and engage with them in an activity that you can both enjoy, you will create happy memories and increase the positive feelings in your relationship.
Schedule a Consistent Time For Fun
Doing something fun with your child does not have to be elaborate or expensive, but it does require some planning and your deliberate attention. It will add to your child’s sense of stability to schedule a consistent time each day or each week to do activities with your child. While some evenings and weekends might not be open, at least one evening a week can be set aside as time for playing and enjoying each other’s company with no disruptions or distractions. Once you settle on a specific time, write it on the calendar and talk with your son or daughter about your idea. As you come up with ideas together you can build the excitement surrounding these dates and give your child something to look forward to. Continue reading
Every year, parents of thousands of children get divorced. Divorces are hard on children, often making them question everything they know. Some children will not react right away, instead letting their stress out through other actions, such as not sleeping or misbehaving at school. You can assure children that their feelings are normal and valid, and tell them to talk with you at any time. But as stress builds, there are ways to mitigate it. Here are three tips for preventing and dealing with your child’s stress. Continue reading
Going through a divorce can be a stressful and emotional time for adults, but child can be equally effected. Parents often want what is best for their kids, and guiding them through the process can be one of the best ways to offer support when it is needed most. In order for children to really cope with a divorce, they need parents to help them understand the huge life change that they are experiencing. Continue reading