With almost half of the marriages in the U.S. ending in divorce, there are a lot of children who become afflicted with psychological, physical and social problems, which are almost entirely preventable. While you might have tried every avenue of trying to renew your relationship, went to marriage counseling or spoke with your religious adviser, sometimes there’s just no viable answer. Whatever the reasons, sometimes it’s better for every one concerned, including your children, to get a divorce and go your separate ways. When children hear or see their parents fighting all the time, they know you’re both unhappy and they become unhappy as well.
Your divorce doesn’t have to damage your children. Your divorce does not justify and or excuse your child’s negative behaviors. As a parent, you have a choice what you expose your children to. Choose not to expose your children to conflict. Choose not to expose your children to negative comments, thoughts, and beliefs about your ex.
If you find you and your spouse simply cannot resolve your differences, there are a few things you must do to promote a positive outcome for your kids. Children of divorce commonly feel that the divorce is their fault. Unless you handle your divorce in an apparently amicable manner, at least in front of the children, you’re going to fuel a host of problems for the kids, both now and later.
It’s essential that both parents sit down with the kids and make it crystal clear that the situation is not their fault. Let them know that adults are capable of making mistakes, and that both you and your spouse are just no longer able to communicate or get along, due to mistakes on both sides. Perhaps you married too young, before you were psychologically prepared for marriage, or grew apart over the years, developing into your own adulthood, taking different directions. If this is the case, this might be appropriate to mention during your discussion. The most important element of your talk should be to eliminate the blame game. Never bad mouth your spouse to your children. Otherwise, children of divorce often take the blame on themselves, while others blame one parent or the other, leading to some serious problems that will follow them for years.
Children of divorce also commonly feel guilt out of their own feelings of loyalty to one parent or another, which may be simply age related. Young girls may still be more attached to Mom, while older boys might favor Dad’s position, blaming Mom for the divorce. This is why it’s so important to nip such thoughts in the bud. Let the children know that you will both love each of them forever and that you know that they love both of you. Explain that, while you and your spouse will not be living together, you expect that the kids will be sharing time in each of your homes.
Divorce is always painful. You never planned on your relationship ending in divorce. However, you and your spouse are the adults and you must give all of your support to the kids now, if you hope for them to continue with healthy relationships of their own, both with friends and their parents. Children of divorce are so vulnerable. It’s up to you to make this transition to a new life as easy as possible, for their sake.
Children of divorce, handled improperly, can lead to childhood anxiety, insomnia and even depression. Discipline problems can creep into the mix as well.
You may find it helpful to obtain a book on child psychology or child development, of the self-help type. If you can afford it, a session or two with a child psychologist may be of immeasurable help in guiding your kids along a healthy path.
You owe this to your kids. With the right care, children of divorce can be happy and well adjusted individuals whose love for each of you is unconditional.