What It Feels Like For Your Child When You Divorce

Photo: Evgeny Atamanenko / Shutterstock
photo of upset daughter between mom and dad

Divorce affects children more intensely than you think, and they need your attention and support more than ever.

For children, divorce can be many things: stressful, confusing, and sad. They may feel anger at the thought of losing a parent, even when you've been quick to reassure them they will continue to be loved by both parents.

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They may even feel like they are losing their family, and they are unsure what their family will look like, so you have to reassure them.

You may be feeling your way around in this brand-new divorced world, but you can successfully navigate this challenging time. Being fully present with your child will reassure them, and if you treat them with patience and understanding they'll have a continued sense of security.

In this powerful video, we really get to hear the often-silenced voice of how divorce affects children:

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A child has many wants, especially when their parents are in the middle of a divorce. Most importantly, they want both their parents to be involved in their lives.

If one parent is only able to see the child on certain days and occasions, that parent should call, Skype, or write emails or letters that ask a lot of questions. This makes the child feel as though their relationship is continuous and unbroken.

Children also need their parents to stop fighting and work to get along. They don't want to hear one parent bad-mouth the other, and they don't want to hear the parents fighting about them; it makes them feel like they did something wrong.

Since a child loves both of his or her parents, it's up to the parents to respect their son or daughter's love for the other parent. Don't be jealous or upset about the time the child spends with the other parent.

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Divorce is difficult for you, your ex, and especially your children. Communicate with each other and you'll make it easier on your child.

Do your best to protect your child from seeing you and your ex fight. You also don't want them to be aware that there are tensions between you and their other parent. You don't want your child to develop anxiety because they are unsure of where each high-conflict argument is going to go next.

Every parent's biggest goal is to protect their child from the world.

Sometimes you have to protect your children from yourselves. And they shouldn't be the go-between for you and the other parent.

Every child needs to be reminded that they can count on both of their parents for stability, structure, and love, no matter what the relationship between their parents is.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Woman's Day. Visit her website or her Instagram.