When you are going through a divorce it may become a grief process for you and your children. Your children may become easily confused. Children may have false hopes that the marriage will be reconcilable. It is difficult for them to accept the changes in roles, interactions, and their self-esteem may suffer.
Waiting for a child to have cardinal signs of dealing poorly is a mistake. The best action is proactive action. He or she needs open communication and easy intervention to prevent problems. It is important to be honest and for both parents to work as a team as much as possible. You do not want your children to be at a consequence of your own chaos. You are divorcing your spouse, not your children. Try to provide as much stability as possible.
Children understand the divorce differently depending on their age and development. But, no matter their age, they need to feel unconditionally loved, and it is very important that you listen to their concerns and complaints with an open ear. According to the Leon (2004) at the University of Michigan’s, Helping Children Understand Divorce, even infants are able to comprehend changes in the parents’ emotional state and energy level, which results in them becoming more irritable and fussy. Affection becomes very important. Of course, the older the child, the more comprehensible the situations, but even in adolescence children tend to have guilt and blame themselves in the midst of divorce.
Try to be honest with your children about the situation, not giving false hopes. At the same time, consider their age and do not overwhelm them with too much information in one sitting. Have patience, and work on getting through this difficult time, yourself. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of your kids. Get help, whether it is with a therapist, a friend, or other community or online resources. There is no reason to go through this difficult time alone.
On September 27, as well as other futures dates, the PISD Family Education and Guidance Services are holding a seminar, For Kid’s Sake, to help children dealing with issues surrounding divorce. Although this is not a substitution for counseling or therapy, this may help you improve your interactions with your children during short-term and long-term transitions.
Divorce-Through the eyes of a child (Lewis & Sammons, 2000)
Helpguide: Children and Divorce
Helpguide: Coping with a breakup or divorce (see bottom of this page for many useful links)
University of MI: Helping children understand divorce
Plano ISD For Kid’s Sake seminar (click for information, time, and dates)
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