When adults make mistakes or bad decisions, it always seems to be the children who suffer the most. This is especially true in situations where couples with children decide that their life together is unbearable and cannot be fixed, leaving divorce as the only solution.
With or without children, divorce is a difficult decision. When there are children involved, things become even more difficult. Parents have a responsibility to alleviate the stress and disruption divorce has on the lives of their children.
In the middle of a divorce, children will go through a lot of different emotions. They will be full of anger towards the situation, toward themselves, and toward their parents. Younger children of parents involved in a divorce often feel they are to blame. While parents will be enduring their own emotional chaos, they must work to ensure that the children understand it is not their fault.
Children will experience feelings of sadness and grief, as well as a sense of loss. They are often confused and concerned about where they will live. They may be worried that they will loose their friends, as well as their family and home. A gradual decrease in their ability to concentrate frequently affects schoolwork and grades.
Boys and girls react differently to the impact of a divorce. Boys act out in external ways by fighting, causing commotions, and refusing to sit still for any length of time. Substance abuse is much more common among boys than girls. Anxiousness, depression, becoming withdrawn, and internalizing negative emotions are characteristics seen more often in girls. Early initiations into sexual activity, along with promiscuity are more common among girls who tend to internalize their feelings.
Parents should work together to provide love and support for their children, regardless of their own personal conflicts. It’s a good idea for the custodial parent to encourage frequent visitation with the non-custodial parent, barring any legitimate fear that harm could come to the child. This is very important in the beginning of a separation. Studies demonstrate that, when access has been limited in the initial stages of separation, parental involvement declines.
Children should be treated with love and respect and not used as pawns between parents. How parents conduct themselves during the divorce proceedings will have a direct effect on their child’s ability to sort through relationship issues as an adult.
Studies show that, if there has been a great deal of conflict in the family, some children will actually be relieved by the separation or divorce. It may come as a surprise, but the children who are most devastated by divorce are those whose parents decide to divorce when there has not been large amounts of conflict in the family. These marriages without obvious conflicts have the best chance of being repaired with professional counseling.
Parents should try to reduce the conflict and discord in the legal process of the divorce as much as they can to lessen its impact on their children. Seek an attorney specializing in family law who will protect your interests and assist you in a timely and fair divorce proceeding.