5 Ways Divorce Affects ChildrenAug 31 2018
When a couple decides to separate, one of the most important things they must consider is how this change will affect their children.
The age of each child and his or her ability to mentally and emotionally deal with events and circumstances will play a key role and should serve as reminders for both partners to be mindful of how they present the divorce to their children. Setting aside personal feelings while explaining the situation can help make the transition easier for all family members.
Ultimately the best interests of the children should be top of mind for parents navigating a divorce. But despite their best efforts, both sides should anticipate having to address emotional fall-out as their children work through the divorce and try to make sense of the new family structure.
Here are five of the most common ways that divorce can affect children.
Children may feel resentful toward the parent they think is initiating the divorce. When possible, both parents should explain to the children that it is better for everyone that the parents live apart. If one of the parents does not want to help explain the situation to the children, the other should take on this lead role. Explanations may be as vague as deemed necessary, depending on the children’s ages and what they have seen and heard.
Even if children see that the parents are not getting along, they often blame themselves for the divorce. They may think that they could have done something to prevent it. It is important that both parents explain to the children that they are not to blame for the separation or divorce.
Because of the change in the family, children may have feelings of instability, especially if they don’t understand why their parents are no longer living together. And, depending on the parenting arrangements, the children may just be getting settled in when they have to uproot and go to the other parent’s home.
To help with this feeling, both parents should remain active in the children’s lives and should try to live in the same community or at least nearby. This way, school, schedules, friends and other things that are important to a child remain stable and consistent.
4. Choosing Sides
Even if the parents’ actions do not force a child to choose a side, the children often feel that they have to side with one parent or the other. In some cases, children may side with mom while they are with her, and with dad when they are with him. The children need to know that it’s okay to love the other parent and to have fun when they are together. Neither parent should engage in criticism or negativity about the other around the children.
5. Low Self-Esteem
Adding to the guilt and other emotions children experience when the family splits up, they may also suffer from low self-esteem. Parents who prioritize the need of their children to have both parents in their lives, and who can communicate in front of the children in a friendly manner can do a lot to bolster the self-esteem of their children. Consider enlisting the help of a therapist or counsellor who specializes in children and youth.
RDM’s legal experts will help you find practical solutions
If you are separating or divorcing, contact RDM Lawyers for a consultation. Our family law professionals can provide assistance and recommendations to help your children cope during difficult and emotional situations.