For children who have known a relatively stable home life, divorce can be a shock and even a form of trauma. It can alter their sense of family stability and their perception of who they are as a person.
The consequences of divorce for children can range from social withdrawal and depression to repeated and deliberate rule-breaking from a previously respectful child or young adult. Parents do not want their divorce to cause any unnecessary harm to their children, but they often make mistakes that can compound how difficult and stressful divorce proceedings are for the youngest people in the household. Thankfully, when adults follow the three tips below, they may have an easier time of helping their children live their best lives both during and after the divorce.
Avoid negativity whenever possible
It’s hard for adults to cope with the rapid changes that occur during divorce. They may let their emotional reactions to the situation bubble over. Allowing the children to witness conflicts can contribute a significant amount to the emotional upheaval that the children experience during the divorce. Parents should do their best to avoid conflict where the children are present and to talk positively about the other parent in front of the children.
Give the children time and space to heal
Sometimes, the best thing that parents can do with children lashing out during a divorce is to be patient. Some children and teenagers will struggle as they process their emotions. Instead of cracking down like a disciplinarian and punishing every outburst, parents may need to be a bit more compassionate when responding to misbehavior during and after a divorce. Of course, that doesn’t mean children have a free pass to avoid discipline. Instead, it means that parents need to consider ways to validate the children’s feelings instead of compounding their sense of betrayal by punishing them immediately for any emotional misbehavior they exhibit.
Recognize when assistance is needed
There are many outsiders who could provide crucial support during the difficult time for the family. A priest or other clergy member could help those who regularly attend religious services support their children in some cases by guiding the parents or supporting the children. Teachers and other professionals at the school the child attends could help provide services and resources while they are in class. Counselors and therapists could also become an important form of support for children who find themselves struggling with intense emotions. Children may feel more comfortable talking with someone other than their parents about the divorce.
Parents who make proactive efforts to support their children during and after a divorce can potentially minimize how difficult for process might be for them.