If you are facing a divorce and have children, you are likely concerned about how the divorce will affect them. This is a common question among divorcing parents, and experts have a lot to say on the subject.
There are many different ways that children cope with a divorce, and a lot also depends on their ages. Here are three frequent effects of divorce on children and some tips on how you can help ease the process for them:
1. Young children may have wishful thinking
In children who are elementary-school age, one typical reaction to divorce is to have a sort of wishful thinking that their parents will eventually get back together. This is one way that the child copes with the unexpected disruption to what was previously taken as a permanent situation. Adolescents tend to accept the finality of divorce faster than young children. When you discuss the split with your child, be honest about the fact that this is not a temporary situation.
2. Visitation and custody issues can cause stress
Visitation and child custody issues that get worked out through the divorce create a new living reality for your child or children, such as having two homes instead of one. Your child’s schedule is now altered in a way that he or she is not used to. Avoiding the adversarial courtroom process can help your children to reduce their stress. Divorce mediation is one way you can stay out of the courtroom and keep control over child custody decision-making.
3. Adolescents may react with aggressive behavior
Teens react to divorce in ways that are markedly different than younger children. It is not unusual for an adolescent to act out with aggressive behavior upon learning of the divorce as a way to cope with the emotional difficulty of the separation. Your teen may try to inflict emotional pain on you as a way of coping with his or her own hurt feelings. Open communication and active listening can help mitigate these effects by giving your adolescent child a way to vent his or her anger and anxiety.
Divorce is difficult for the whole family, and the effects of divorce on children vary depending on the circumstances of your divorce and the age of the child. Ensuring that you allow your children a safe space to cope with and talk about their feelings will help them to move through the process in a way that makes them feel supported.