As I was looking into information on the effects of divorce on children I came across this statement that said parents were concerned about the impact the divorce would have on their children. The problem I have with that is that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. You would think if we were concerned about how it would affect our children then that number would be much lower than we would find a way to make it work if not for ourselves then for our children. But I guess at this point that is water under the bridge.
Depending on your child’s age, the effects of divorce on children vary.
Infants can’t understand what is going on, but they can feel the tension and change in their parent’s moods and energy.
Preschool children often feel they are the cause of the divorce and experience fear of being alone and abandoned. Denial that things have changed is also typical.
School-aged children understand more of what is going on within the family. They may experience resentment, grief, anger, and divided loyalties. They have a hard time controlling and dealing with their feelings because of their young age.
Teens, they know it all, they are understand what is going on and they feel angry, guilty, lonely and depressed. Often they are forced to grow up quicker than they should.
Helping Children Cope with Divorce
One of the most critical things that you can do to help your children cope with divorce is to minimize the conflict between you and your ex. You should never bad mouth them or fight in front of your children.
If your children are old enough, you should talk to them about what is happening and how things will look for them. They want to know what their relationship will be with both parents. Some children go into problem-solving mode here so be patient and hear them out.
Even though it is not always possible; each parent should have consistent and even day-by-day involvement in their child’s life. When parents set the same rules and are involved the children feel valued and loved.
Change can be hard, especially for children so if at all possible limit the changes in their lives. Try to keep them in the same school, childcare, home, or neighborhood. Even their relationships are important; allow them to see grandma and grandpa and their friends as they normally would.
There are a lot of things that you can do to help your children cope with the effects of divorce. But one of the most critical is how you manage your stress. You need to be able to take care of yourself if you want to take care of your kids. Not only will you feel better but your children will be watching you, and they will pick up both the positive and negative ways you deal with stress.
Lastly, use friends and family as a support group during this rough time, not your children.
Source: University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension – The Effects of Divorce on Children