The Positive Effects of Divorce on Children

The old saying that divorce is hardest on the kids is not just an empty phrase. For children, the home and the daily strong presence of mom and dad is their whole reality.  That home is all they have known since birth and when it is suddenly torn apart by divorce, that can turn into the biggest trauma of that child’s life. So it is a good idea for both parents to think through how they will help the kids come out of the divorce process with a little negative impact as possible.

Communication is the key to help your kids deal with the effects on children after divorce.  The actual negotiations for how the divorce will conclude including the property and visitation rights should be done primarily by the adults.  But if you let the kids tell you their feelings, positive and negative about the divorce, that can do a lot to ease the transition.

Those talks can also be used to assure the children that they did not cause the divorce and that they are still totally loved by both parents.  There is a lot of insecurity children feel when parents split up because they need to know who is going to take care of them.  So use these times of regular talks as a family with mom and dad there and with individual kids one on one to reassure them that they will never be away from someone to care for their needs.

As much as possible, do not let the children experience any change in lifestyle due to the divorce.  There will be economic adjustments as you go from living as two households instead of one.  But both parents should be sure that the children do not have to sacrifice for this change. Do not make them change schools, give up cable TV channels or give up friends because that might be awkward for mom or dad.  As adults, better you just deal with the awkwardness so that you minimize how much the divorces will impact the lives of the children.

Since the children will spend time with each parent individually, each parent must make it a top priority that the youngsters never hear about the tension that the divorce may be causing.  Do not criticize the other parent or complain about them in the presence of the children.  If questions come up about the divorce, you can minimize the negative effects on children after divorce by having a soft and loving answer so they do not feel at risk because mom and dad are apart.  They should never hear about budget problems and they should never hear mom and dad fight.  These will be hard rules to keep but they should be top level rules so that the emotional effects on divorce children are kept at a minimum.

Pay attention to long respected family history and traditions and try to sustain them even after the divorce.  Even if mom and dad are living separate, to have dad there Christmas morning may make all the difference in helping the children deal with the emotional effects on children after divorce.  If the children are used to a bedtime story from a parent who is no longer there, a nightly call can cover that base.

Make sure the youngsters have all the access they need to both sets of grandparents so they don’t feel like they actually lost anyone even though they must adjust to the facts that mom and dad are no longer married.  One of the best ways to make sure your kids experience positive effects of divorce on children is to keep them connected to treasured family members including aunts, uncles and their cousins.

Child psychologists agree that keeping the strength of extended family intact is one of the best ways to provide a good structure for children to deal with divorce. In addition, when both parents have the full support of family and friends that were connected to the kids during the marriage, that provides resources to turn to when things get difficult as the adults try to figure out how life as a divorced couple with kids should work.

To seek the most positive effects of divorce on children, watch each child closely.  Each child is different and he or she will react to the divorce differently both as it is happening and long afterward as well.  Be alert to the signs that one child may show signs of depression.  If the child is lethargic, withdrawn and shows no motivation for things in life that they once enjoyed, that is not a reason for discipline. That may be depression that the child is going through because of the divorce which calls for careful handling by parents and by professionals who know how to guide a child to a turbulent time.

Many problems that often plaque young people because of the trauma of growing up are even more troublesome when a young person is trying to cope with the stresses of divorce.  Be on the alert for changes in habits and lifestyle that are unexplained like problems sleeping or eating or poor behavior at school where those things were not common before.  A child may act out and get in trouble and the problem may be an emotional reaction to the divorce rather than defiance or some cause that should be addressed through punishment.

By always suspecting that the negative change may be an emotional reaction to the divorce, you err to the side of compassion and seeing the best emotional reactions in children to divorce rather than the worst. Before you or the school administrators resort to punishment, it is wise to take the counsel of the psychologists or other advisors who know your child well so that if the problem is related to the divorce of the youngster’s parents, the proper response can be offered instead of harming a youth’s delicate emotional system even more.

Take are to celebrate big moments in the child’s life with both parents participation. That includes birthdays and holidays but the idea extends to being there at the first ball game of young boy or being front row center at that school play.  These things may seem trivial to a parent who is coping with the big issues of a divorce but they are very important times to a child and having mom and dad there send that message of love that is stronger than any words.

There is encouragement to be had because researchers have found that in most cases, children adjust to the facts of the divorce within three years.  But this is a general time frame so pay attention to each child in the family as some may take five years and other longer. By making it a priority for both parents to show the children that they are important and that they will not have to sacrifice the love of mom or dad because of the divorce, the positive effects of divorce eon children can be a strong connection to both parents and a strong self concept because they survived a tough transition early in life.

Both parents should be very sensitive about the effect on the children about the idea of dating or getting married again.  Here is a case where the needs of the adults must be put aside if the children are not ready to accept that change.  Children must not feel that they are losing mom or dad or being forced to accept a stranger as mom or dad because that will only slow down their ability to cope with the divorce over the years.

It is wise for both parents to talk to the children about the idea of them dating again and to listen closely to what the kids have to say.  When you do begin to date, be cautious about your social contacts so that if a relationship begins to become serious, you are certain that your new romantic partner will be a good adult role model for the kids as well.  By handling this part of the transition that is part of divorce, you can provide children with new adults that will bring positive effects of divorce on children rather than cause the children anxiety or grief at the new adult in their lives.

When adults go through a divorce, they become self absorbed because there are huge emotional issues to deal with in such a major rift in your lifestyle.  For children, that trauma is magnified because the divorce comes out of the blue to them and the problems in the marriage are not their fault.  But the huge changes in how their lives work are a big burden on very young children who have few emotional resources to cope with them.  If parents who are divorcing want to see only positive effects of divorce on children, it is your job to put your own issues aside and make the transition to the new life for your children the most important issue in your life.  If you do that, while the transition will never be easy, you can get through this as a family even if it is a family ravaged by the problems of divorce.

Mia Carmel West is a author of divorce books for Divorceguide.com that serve to help married couples with their problems in marriage. To view some of her articles about children and divorce, click on children and divorce articles or copy and paste the URL on your browser: http://www.divorceguide.com/free-divorce-advice/children-and-divorce/
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