A divorce, no matter how amicable, will always have an effect on children involved. Many children whose parents divorce often feel that their lives are torn apart. Some feel guilt while others may feel shame. These feelings not only occur throughout the divorce process, but can also linger years after a divorce is finalized.
Parents undergoing a divorce should pay close attention to the reactions of their children. It's understandable that divorcing parties are feeling their own stress and emotions during the process, but experts say that it's essential parents take proactive measures to mitigate any lasting impacts of the divorce on their children.
A few tips include:
Simplifying the process
A divorce often takes time before a final decree is issued; child support, custody arrangements, and property distribution all typically need to be resolved. A divorce can take even more time if the situation is particularly hostile. However, parents can take steps to streamline the process.
Speaking with a knowledgeable family law attorney is one option parents should consider. An attorney can offer advice on alternative options to handle the divorce, like mediation or arbitration, which can help speed up the process and lessen the impact of the divorce on children.
Encouraging open communication
Children of parents in the midst of a divorce often experience a variety of feelings. And, depending on the age, children are hesitant to talk about their feelings. Many just keep them bottled up inside.
However, parents should encourage their children to speak openly about their feelings about the divorce. Whether it's with a close friend or relative, talking about their feelings can be therapeutic and help them process what's happening.
Children left to dwell on the situation only heighten their emotions about the divorce. Parents can help mitigate these feelings by engaging in activities with their children that distract them from the situation.
An activity that involves concentration, such as a board game, is one such example. Alternately, an activity that involves the use of complex movements, like playing a musical instrument, is another example experts recommend.
Avoiding hostile behavior
It's common for divorcing couples to display hostile feelings toward one another. However, many are exhibited in front of their children. Since children are already feeling the stress of the situation, witnessing additional confrontations between their parents only makes matters worse.
As hard as it may be, parents are encouraged to try and remain as cordial as possible to reduce the strain on the children.
Taking these important measures to maintain as much of a calm environment for children during a divorce cannot be stressed enough. Along with the above recommendations, parents can also seek therapy or counseling for their children to help mitigate the pain experienced during the process.