Divorces include a multitude of variables. Parental worry about children can be a common factor in most divorces. A child often feels powerless and fearful when parents decide to dissolve their marriage. Children are unable to reason as well as adults; in fact, young children may react solely on emotion. Some children fear that parents are not only divorcing each other, but they are also divorcing their children.
The entire family experiences stress in a divorce. Parents can learn how to create the least amount of trauma for their children by understanding separation from a child’s point of view. Children fear abandonment. A difficult child may feel guilt and self-blame for the family breakup. Each child’s reaction will be characteristic of unique personality traits, as well as age-related coping and cognitive skills. Children also take their cues from parental behavior.
Parents should work together to provide stability
Parents provide the structure children need. They should present a united front and kindly but firmly maintain family rules. The adults should never allow their children to pit one parent against the other. Divorcing parents who blame each other or fight in front of the family may relieve their own feelings, but they cause traumatic emotional damage to their children.
If a parent needs to express angry feelings, using one of the children as junior therapists is a bad idea. It not only forces the child to take sides, but it also increases the child’s feeling of insecurity. Parents who use the high road will enable their children to adjust without pushing them into the middle.
Parents may experience a variety of reactions
Both children and parents may experience a roller-coaster of thoughts, fears and emotions. Each day can bring unexpected challenges. It is difficult to parent skillfully at the best of times, but parents must think of their children’s needs.
Older children may develop persistent anger or disobedience. Alternatively, some children react with silence and apathy as they experience profound despair and depression. A quiet child needs as much help as an aggressive child.
Parents can use a network of professional support
It is important early on for the divorcing couple to set up legal mediation sessions with a goal to behave fairly and amicably. Parents would be wise to seek professional family counseling with a credentialed therapist who specializes in divorce issues. Parents can utilize an easily overlooked resource for school-age children by asking teachers to watch for changes in behavior. If a child becomes belligerent and aggressive or becomes severely withdrawn, the teacher can inform parents about emotional red flags to address during therapy.