As everyone knows, the childhood years are formative and every experience will have an impact on how children grow up and deal with the world. It’s therefore unsurprising when studies show that children with divorced parents can end up with long-lasting emotional pain that may affect their choices and experiences as adults. While children of divorceusually go through a great deal of pain during the initial divorce process, there are things that parents can do to help children through this period and minimize the chances of long-term damage.
The Ohio Department of Health reported 945 divorces with minor children in Montgomery County in 2010. Out of these divorces, 1,680 children were affected. This goes to show that in any given year, a great number of children in our county alone are watching their parents split and seeing their life as they’ve always known it falling apart. While it’s heartbreaking to see children suffer during a divorce, PsychCentral says that if parents put their children’s needs first and try to keep them from seeing and experiencing most of the conflict, they can be shielded from the worst of divorce’s adverse effects.
How divorce affects children
WebMD says that younger children usually turn their pain inward. When the security of a stable home life is broken, they usually respond by becoming clingy, wetting the bed and regressing to other habits that they’d previously outgrown. In contract, older children usually handle their parents’ divorce by blaming their parents for the pain. They can lash out, experience problems with school, become depressed or aggressive and rely on their friends more for support than their family.
Helping kids cope with the pain
Quickly starting a consistent routine and keeping activities as normal as possible can help kids adjust to living in two households rather than one, says Lawrence Journal-World. Parents need to reassure their children, especially younger ones, that the divorce was never their fault. Counselors and teachers should also know what’s going on, and parents should ask them to keep an eye on the kids at school and let them know if there appear to be any problems.
The Mayo Clinic offers some additional tips for helping kids through a divorce:
- Don’t say bad things about the other parent to the child.
- Don’t argue or discuss grown-up issues in front of kids.
- Don’t force children to choose sides.
- Don’t use the child as a go-between or as a pawn to hurt the other parent.
It can be difficult for parents to get along with each other after a divorce, especially at first. But it’s important to keep conflict to a minimum around the kids, and will benefit everyone in the long run.
Contacting a divorce attorney
Even adults have a hard time dealing with the emotional issues during and after a divorce. It’s harder for children, who usually don’t understand the reasons their parents are splitting up, or why they have to adjust to new routines and living in separate homes. It will benefit parents trying to navigate the complicated issues of divorce to speak with an experienced divorce attorney. The laws regarding child custody and support are complex, and an attorney will be able to help parents come up with parenting and support plans that will help them transition as quickly and smoothly as possible.