The Effect of Divorce on Children
Divorce is obviously difficult for the divorcing parties, but the children of divorce often suffer in their own way. Young children thrive in stable, predictable environments. During and after a divorce, their environment is often far from stable and predictable. One household is divided into two, new surroundings and new relationships are often introduced, and the children are no longer with both parents on a daily basis. The children may feel frightened, confused, stressed and may experience separation anxiety. It is important for the parents to make their children feel secure both during and after the divorce proceedings.
It may help for parents to try to adhere to daily routines for the children. Normal morning and bedtime routines can help a child feel safe and secure in both households. Continuing with their regular extracurricular activities as much as possible can also provide stability. When one or both parents move to a new neighborhood, parents should encourage the children to make friends in the neighborhood so that they feel more at home. Also, having a specific toy, blanket, pillow or other personal item that regularly travels between the parents homes may also provide a source of comfort.
While it is important to answer a child’s question honestly, it is also imperative to speak about the other parent in a positive way and avoid discussing court proceedings. One should never argue with the other parent in front of the children and should make attempts to encourage the children to have a strong relationship with both parents. Avoid using the children as messengers between the parents. Never make the children feel guilty about enjoying the time they spend with the other parent.
Each family is different and every child has unique needs. It is important to discover what works for your family and your children during and after divorce. Always listen to the children’s concerns, let them express their feelings and, if necessary, seek the assistance of a counselor to assist them both during and after the divorce.