Parents worry when going through divorce on how it will affect their children. In the midst of the chaos, hurt and pain it is hard to put one’s emotions to the side and focus on what the children need but parents should make it a priority to do so.
Divorce does have an effect on children no matter what age they are. Infants seem to be able to adjust well but they do react to the change in mood from their parents and it can upset them.
The older the children the more they understand and struggle with the change. They often have feelings of guilt and many blame themselves for the divorce. They think if they would have eaten all their dinner, cleaned their room, or didn’t bicker with their siblings that mom and dad would still be together. They also experience anger, depression, and fear.
Fear of being alone or of abandonment is common among school age children. They might hold on to their special blanket a bit longer or start wetting the bed. Children at this age have a hard time dealing with their feelings. Sometimes they even feel that they must choose sides.
Children that are in their teens have a better understanding of what is happening yet they still go through many of the emotions that younger children do. Often times teens are expected to step up into adulthood before they are ready and take on more of the responsibility around the home. Teens might feel emotions like anger, depression, resentment and embarrassment.
The key to dealing with children and divorce is for both parents to stay active in their lives. They need to love them, support them, and show that they care. Children need to feel accepted and loved by their parents whether they are divorced or not.
Never put your children in the middle and protect them from any disagreements. They should never hear you bad mouthing your partner or fighting. Discussing the situation with older children and letting them know what involvement each parent will have is also very important. You might not love your ex anymore but chances are your children do.
Try not to change too many things around; if you can keep them in the same house, school, neighborhood, or child care you should. Let them hang with friends and family that they normally do. It is hard enough dealing without the divorce you don’t want to totally shock them by changing everything else in their lives.