Divorces are a difficult process, whether you were the partner that initiated the separation or not. If there are children to consider, it makes the process that much more difficult. As parents, it is normal to want to believe that your child is simply shockingly well-adapted and able to take a divorce into stride.
However, pretty much every child of a divorced couple struggles with understanding what is happening or happened in the past. Even if the split occurred before their memories started. Typically, children will aim to reduce any conflict they feel is happening by not sharing their feelings. Bottled up emotions lead to increased symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as other emotional or behavioral disorders.
Read on to learn the best ways to help your children deal with the emotional turmoil of a divorce. Please note that these are general suggestions, and every child is different. If your little one(s) seem to be having intense issues with the split, it may be a good idea to contact a child psychologist in your area.
Don’t make the child choose between you and your partner.
Research shows that the number one cause of emotional turmoil in children of divorce is feeling torn between their parents. One of the best ways to avoid causing this stress is to not fight in front of your child(ren). Casting blame on your partner while speaking to your child can cause the same feelings.
Typically, this behavior in parents is what makes kids feel responsible for a divorce. Even if you never ask that they pick a side, constant arguing pressures them to do so. This places an unnecessarily heavy emotional burden on someone so young. Adults often struggle to cope with this situation, let a child or teenager.
Offer emotional support.
Encourage honesty in your children. Now is not the time to treat them as if they don’t understand what is happening. The best way to encourage honesty is by validating their emotions. If they feel sad, you can respond with something encouraging and legitimizing. For example, “I understand, sometimes I feel sad about it too. If you want to, we can talk about it.”
This offer of support is very important. The best way to help a child emotionally is to talk with them. Really try and understand with how they are feeling. If they can’t quite express how they feel, help them vocalize their emotions. Ask questions like “It seems like you may be sad right now, do you miss dad/mom?”
Let them have an outlet.
No matter ow encouraging or understanding parents try to be, sometimes kids don’t want to talk. At least, their kids don’t want to talk to them.
Kids talking with an objective party is really beneficial to their mental health. It is typical for children to be reserved when they discuss their problems with their parents. They may think that they’ll be in trouble, or they may be concerned about you if they know you’re stressed.