During a divorce everyone gets hurt, especially the children...
Getting a divorce is traumatic, and nowhere do we see the effects of a divorce more than the children. The family is the life center for children, and when the family is threatened by divorce, the children feel tugged and pulled between mom and dad.
Many parents worry about the effects of divorce on their children and this is one reason divorces take years to finalize. When you divorce your spouse, you do not have to divorce your children as well. Experts who work with families report that many times, a failure for the child to trust well into adulthood stems back to reliving the divorce of their parents.
The problems witnessed during divorce proceedings stem from unresolved anger and bitterness with the issues that led up to or caused the divorce.
Getting these issues resolved with conflict resolution prior to divorce helps the couple in three ways.
- Resolving the issues may help each partner feel a renewed sense of closeness, and they may feel more motivated to work on their marriage.
- Resolving the issues will help the divorce be more child centered and more focused on the child's well-being.
- Resolving the issues will help with communication as the couple co-parent while living apart from one another.
If you must divorce, then getting your child's perspective of how they may feel, and trying to be considerate of their needs can help immensely.
Below are three important ways to help your children understand that although their family has changed, their mother and father both love them and will be working together to parent them.
- Never share intimate details of what happened or caused the divorce with your children. There is a boundary between adults/parents and children. Your child should never be your emotional confidante. If a parent needs to talk to someone, a good therapist or best friend is an option, but never your child.
- Don’t use your child as a spy. Your child’s job is not to come home with the details of what mom or dad is doing. This puts your child in a terrible position and they constantly worry about losing one parent, lying, or feeling used. If you need a detective, hire one, but never use your child.
- Never talk badly about your ex or your child’s other parent in front of your child. Your child personalizes the nasty things you say about their other parent. It is cruel to compare your child to their other parent in a negative way as well. It reflects poorly on you as well, because you chose the child’s other parent to become involved with. If you ever say anything bad about your child’s other parent, always apologize to your child. Children can forgive, but forgetting is difficult for them.
It is not a coincedence that many of the adults I work with today suffer emotional problems from going through a divorce with their parents. Usually, the divorce was only part of the pain.
The other part was the constant criticism, hating and bitterness the divorced parents used against each other as the child was growing up. Children need to know they grew up being loved by their parents.
If you cannot live with your married partner and you must divorce, then divorce each other, but don't divorce the kids. A divorce should never be a reason for you not to see and support your child. As with all things, if a parent is unsafe then it is never wise to put your child in harm’s way. This does not account for the majority of divorces.
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