When things don't work out between you and the person you married, you suffer internally, agonizing over a new life without each other, reminiscing about the way he once made you feel. Then, it hits you: what about your children? What happens to them?
For most, the custodial decision is practical. The children will stay with you, their mother, their nurturer, their care-giver. You are the one who kisses their feverish foreheads, who cleans up the vomit and tucks them into bed. Is Divorce Becoming a Luxury?
Beyond the financial aspects of your marriage and deciding who keeps the kids, not much is discussed, and many parents forget about the emotional turmoil their children suffer as a result of divorce. But it's not just the parents who suffer from the failed union. Often, children of divorced couples undergo the mayhem in silence.
My parents got divorced, and so did I, and I also have a child. Here are several things I've learned from both of our experiences:
1. Kids feel responsible. Children may feel an overwhelming guilt about the relationship ending. Some children may feel that the marriage ended because of something they've said or done. Sadly, without a parent's reassurance that the divorce had nothing to do with them or their actions, your children may harbor this and may begin to feel anxiety over losing the other parent as well.
2. Their behavior changes. Some children begin to act out in an effort to display distance from their new home life situation. To suddenly go from a secure two parent home to a one parent home can be devastating for some. For others, withdrawal seems best to avoid getting hurt further. Of course, the child who is suddenly uncomfortable in an alien environment may retreat to the safety of their fantasies, friends, school work, anything to keep from admitting that anything is wrong. How Do I Know I'm Ready To Start Dating After A Divorce?
Some even act out because the only parent in their lives full-time becomes too distracted and overwhelmed by the situation and thus, avoids the children. As a result, the misbehaving children begin to hope that their new behavior will force their parents to pay attention to them. It may be the only way these children know how to cry out for help.
3. They feel a sense of loss. Losing a parent to divorce can be just as traumatic, in some cases, as losing a parent to death. Where some once seemed complacent, many may feel loss because the other parent is no longer in their lives full-time. In DK Simoneau's book, We're Having A Tuesday, Simoneau describes how children living with both parents, but not necessarily under the same roof, can find solutions that work for both the divorced parents and the children involved.
In the end, parents have to yet again, read between the lines, follow all the nonverbal cues their children are sending out in order to help resolve this matter. Sadly, feelings of loss may always be with your child, but there are tactics we as parents can employ to decrease these feelings over time.
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