As researchers continue to study the impact of divorce on children, certain truths remain constant. Divorce can cause children anxiety, anger and confusion. Ultimately, grades, behavior, physical health, and even mental health issues can arise. For parents seeking a divorce, the process may not be the most daunting challenge. Helping children survive the ills of divorce may be.
Nearly 50 percent of American marriages end in divorce. Statistics show that half of all American children will witness the break-up of their parents’ relationship. Divorce means change for a child. Uncertainties arise as parents divvy up the house, the car and even their legal rights to their children. Changes in lifestyle and witnessing parental squabbles can place undue stress on a youngster, because the family unit, which defined him or her, is now disappearing
Parents must first understand that their actions – conscious and unconscious – can harm their child. Attending co-parenting classes or exploring different divorce methods, such as mediation and collaborative divorce, may help estranged spouses agree to co-parent more responsibly. Any future contacts should be consistent, conciliatory and child-focused.
Some of the first steps that parents should take include sitting down and talking to their child about the divorce process. Eliminate discussions about fault, worries about finances, and parental insecurities. Anxieties can be reduced when children understand the process and things are explained clearly and honestly.
Helping your child does not have to be a lonely process. In many cases, counselors, divorce support groups and even clergy can help you address some of your child’s fears and concerns about the impact of divorce on their lives.
Children are resilient when it comes to physical injuries, but divorce can create lasting psychological issues. Often, children feel they are at fault or have failed to keep their family intact. Parents should be vigilant in monitoring any changes in their child’s moods, grades and habits, and reassure their child or children that divorce is about adult relationships and that the child is not in any way the cause.
Divorce does not change everything in a person’s life. Divorcing parents can spare their child’s mental and physical health from being the casualty of the parents’ failing relationship. Honesty, clarity and consistency are just some of the ways parents can help their children grow into well-adjusted adults.