What Does Divorce Mean For My Kids? Understanding Children Of Divorce
Are you thinking about getting a divorce but aren't sure what it will mean for your children? Or, you may be already in the process of a divorce and aren't sure what your kids are experiencing. Either way, you're a parent, and the number one thing to you is making sure that the divorce isn't going to hurt your children, right? You want to ensure they will get through this as unscathed as possible, and you might wonder what divorce means for your kids. Well, we're going to take a look at just that.
For The Children
How many people have you heard talk about staying together for the kids? They say they can't stand their partner but stay for the kids, or they aren't in love with their partner anymore but they stay for the kids. However they feel about their partner, they are making what they believe is a noble sacrifice for their children's happiness. But the truth is that they could be causing more harm.
Research seems to show that children do best in a happy, healthy, two-parent home. That means the children do better if their parents live together and have a happy and healthy relationship than in a single-parent household. But note this requires a home that is happy and healthy. It will show if there is abuse in the home or if the parents are unhappy being together. No matter what you try to hide for the children's sake, you won't be able to hide everything.
Children are perceptive. They notice the little looks or comments. They recognize the signs of parents who aren't completely happy with their relationship, but, just like you, they keep quiet. This type of stress and strain can hurt them over the long term. It can affect their school life, relationships with friends, relationships with parents, and even their mental state, all of which could fall under the effects of divorce. Because they know that something is wrong in their household, it interferes with every aspect of their lives more and more as time goes on.
When the parents cannot live together in a happy and healthy relationship, it's better for them to separate than stay together. Research shows that children with two parents who are happy but don't live in the same household do better than children with two parents who live together but aren't happy. If you want to do something for your children and make things easier and better for them, you should do what will help them best. If you can't be happy in your relationship, leaving is what's best.
Going Through Divorce
Getting through a divorce is not easy for your children. It is a challenging process for your child that can be even harder if you and your partner cannot be civil to each other. If you and your partner can agree to the divorce terms, especially about those aspects that concern your children, it will make everything much easier for them.
One of the most important things is to ensure that your children know that both of you still love them and that nothing will ever change. Keeping all the important decisions between you and your partner is also important. Don't involve your children in arguments, debates, or anything else about the divorce unless necessary. If they do have to, ensure that their exposure to everything is limited to only what they need to be part of and that you keep the ex-bashing out of the situation when you discuss things with them.
Your children love both of you, and nothing will make divorce harder on them than being in the middle of a battle between you both. It will be much easier for them if they feel like their parents will go their separate ways civilly and they feel loved and cared for. If they feel like their parents hate each other and never stop fighting and keep pulling them into the middle of things, it will make things a lot harder for them.
Get Some Help
No matter how peaceful and healthy your divorce seems, it will affect your children just like it will affect you. It doesn't matter if you hate your ex or if the two of you have been living separate lives for years. No matter what type of relationship you had before, you'll notice thoughts and emotions that you need to deal with popping up. If you're experiencing that, you can bet your children are too.
Talk to your children about what they're going through and how they feel about everything. Be there to listen to what they have to say but avoid the blame game. Never blame your ex for what is happening in the relationship (even if you feel it's entirely their fault). That doesn't mean you need to take the blame on yourself, either. Explain to your children that no one is to blame (especially stress that they have no fault or responsibility in the divorce decision) but that you are simply deciding that your relationship is not working out.
Professional help is going to be an even more critical aspect. Getting your child to talk with a professional can help them get through some of the things they are already experiencing. It can help them voice their thoughts and feelings to someone not emotionally invested in the situation. That way, they can be completely honest without feeling like they're taking sides (yes, even if you try hard not to put your children on the spot, they feel this anyway) or like they're going to upset one or the other of you.
What Happens After Divorce?
So, what will happen to your children after the divorce? There's no way to say that your child will be fine in a certain number of weeks or months, but we can say that your child will get through it. Adjusting to the differences in their life will be difficult, but the more mature and civil you and your partner can be, the easier it will be for them. The faster you can get them a professional to talk with, the easier it will be.
Please encourage them to open up to you, their other parent, and their therapist. Getting their thoughts and feelings out into the open will also improve their way of life. Be prepared for just about anything. Your child, no matter how old they are, may be angry. They may be sad. They may seem to bounce between sad and angry or have outbursts, or even have difficulty at school that they never had before. Be prepared for these things and understand that your child is going through a difficult time.
Therapy Can Help You, Too
If you’re going through a divorce or trying to determine if your marriage is worth saving, talking to a therapist can help. Talking to someone face-to-face can be overwhelming; if you feel this way, consider online therapy.
When you sign up for online treatment, you attend sessions from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere you have an internet connection. You don’t have to commute to an office or worry about being on a waiting list for an available appointment. You’re matched with a qualified professional available to start helping you right away. Research shows that online therapy is effective, too. One review of 14 studies found that online treatment was just as effective as in-person sessions. If you’re ready to get started, sign up with Regain to take the next step.
Divorce is difficult for everyone, but it can be particularly hard for children. Supporting your kids during your divorce and encouraging them to talk to a therapist will help them get through the difficult times ahead, but talking to a therapist can help you, too.
At What Age Does Divorce Affect A Child?
A child’s reaction to divorce could depend on how old they were when their parents divorced and can last until they become adult children. The topic of children and divorce can be complicated, regardless of age.
- Babies. Babies can feel the tension between their divorcing parents, or, as some studies suggest, even while children of divorce are in the womb. This tension can result in irritability, clingy behavior, and frequent emotional outbursts.
- Toddlers. The previously established bond between toddlers and their parents can be severely impacted. Toddlers may also believe they are at fault for their parents’ separation or divorce, leading to guilt and shame. If left untreated, their feelings can still affect them, even as adults. To avoid this outcome with adult children of divorce, you can provide a child with as much love and support as possible or, in complicated cases, consider temporarily placing the child with a loved one.
- School-aged children. If children of divorce have had a loving life, a parent’s divorce or separation can surprise them and make them feel as if they are being abandoned. Children of divorce aged 8 to 11 may assign one parent as good and the other as bad. Even though things are rarely this black and white, children may require more clarity and communication. In turn, people with divorced parents at this age may have angry outbursts or face depression. These feelings can still exist for them as adult children of divorce. You can help your child through a divorce by encouraging them to join clubs or pick up a new hobby for relaxation.
It’s important to note that a divorce’s impact on children only changes the child depending on how they view the divorce. A parent has no control over the child’s thoughts. A parent can try to do separation and divorce to try and help the child as much as possible. These efforts can go a long way to help a child through a divorce.
Will Divorce Ruin My Child?
Divorce will not likely “ruin” your child if you take steps to ensure your child’s mental health. The idea of ruining a child is inherently flawed. Just because a child has a justifiably adverse reaction to something upsetting does not mean they're ruined. The impact on children of divorce varies depending on age and personality type.
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