What Does Divorce Mean For My Kids? Understanding Children Of Divorce
Updated May 18, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Karen Devlin, LPC
Are you thinking about getting a divorce but aren't sure what it's going to mean for your children? Maybe you're already in the process of a divorce and aren't sure what your kids are experiencing. You're a parent either way, and the number one thing to you is making sure that the divorce isn't going to hurt your children, right? You want to make sure that they are going to get through this as unscathed as possible, and that means you're asking yourself, 'what does divorce mean for my 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 children?' They say that they can't stand their partner, but they stay for the kids. Or they aren't in love with their partner anymore, but they stay for the kids. Whatever it is they feel about their partner, they are making what they believe is a noble sacrifice of their wants and plans for their children's happiness in the immediate time. But the truth is that they could be causing more harm than they are stopping.
Research seems to show that children do best in a happy, healthy, two-parent home. That means if their parents live together and have a happy and healthy relationship, the children do better than in a single-parent household. But note, that says happy and healthy. If there is abuse in the home or the parents are not happy being together, it will show. No matter what you try to hide 'for the sake of the children, you're not going to 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 the relationship they're in, but, just like you, they keep quiet. This type of stress and strain can hurt them over the long term because it does just that, cause stress and strain. It can affect their school life, relationships with friends, relationships with parents, and even their mental state. Because they know that there is something 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 who have two parents who are happy but don't live in the same household do better than children who have two parents who live together but aren't happy. If your whole point is to do something for your children and make things easier and better for them, shouldn't you be doing whatever it is that will help them best? If you can't be happy in your relationship, leaving is what's best.
Going Through Divorce
Getting through the process of divorce is not going to be easy for your children. We're not trying to say that it is. Rather, it's going to be an extremely difficult 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 terms of the divorce and especially about those aspects that concern your children, it will make everything much easier on your children, but that's not always possible. If it's not, keeping your children out of everything as much as possible is crucial.
One of the most important things is to make sure that your children know that both of you still love them and that nothing is ever going to change that. It's also important to keep all the important decisions between you and your partner. Don't involve your children in the arguments or the debates or anything else about the divorce unless they have to be. And even if they do have to make sure 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 huge battle between you both. If they feel like their parents will each go their separate ways, but everything goes through civilly, and they feel loved and cared for, it will be much easier for them. If they feel like their parents hate each other entirely and never stop fighting and keep pulling them into the middle of things, it's going to make things a whole 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 feel like you hate your ex or if the two of you have been living practically separate lives for years. No matter what type of relationship you had before, you're going to notice thoughts and emotions popping up that you need to deal with. If you're experiencing that, you can bet your children are as well.
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 completely 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 important 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 to voice all of their thoughts and feelings to someone that is not emotionally (or otherwise) 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 definitive scale that we can say your child will be 100% fine after "x" amount of time, but we can say that your child will be able to get through it. Adjusting to the differences in their life will be difficult for them, 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, outside person 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 improve their way of life as well. 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 all of these things and understand that your child is going through a difficult time. These attacks are meant to hurt you, but only because your child is hurting and doesn't know how to show it.
Suppose you're looking for a way to help your child look for a therapist that they can talk with about everything they're experiencing. There are therapists in every city throughout the country, but it can be difficult to find someone that you are comfortable with or that your child is comfortable with. That's why ReGain is here to help you with the process of finding the right therapist right off the bat.
Therapists with ReGain are available anytime you need them and anywhere you need them because they're online rather than sitting in a specific office. Your child can communicate with them from home without having to worry about making it to appointments. This can also help them feel more comfortable opening up because they can do it from their living room or room. They'll be able to set up appointments and meet when it's convenient, around other schedules, and even set up emergency appointments if they need to without having to worry about how to get a ride. No matter how you find a therapist for your child, getting one will be an important step in the healing process.
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