FindLaw KnowledgeBasePublished: 2012-05-09
The dissolution of a family through divorce is difficult for everyone involved. However, children may feel the effects more keenly than adults. They may be old enough to understand what is going on, but too young to vocalize all of the emotions they feel as a result or to truly understand why the divorce is occurring. However, parents can take steps to minimize the impact that divorce has on their children.
When parents separate, the entire family dynamic changes. Parents have to learn how to define their identities as newly single individuals and this can affect how they interact with their children. Experts suggest that parents may feel guilty about not being able to make the marriage work, so they attempt to become friends with their children, rather than maintaining the parent role. The differing discipline patterns can cause anxiety for children, as it contributes to an already considerable amount of change they have to process as a result of the divorce.
Children respond to divorce differently at various stages of development. Very young children may not notice a difference, unless a parent is suddenly completely absent from the child’s life. School-aged children may have feelings of grief, anger or embarrassment about their parents’ divorce but may not know how to express them. They may suffer physical manifestations of their feelings such as headaches or stomachaches.
Teens may feel similar feelings as school-aged children. They may also feel like they have to grow up too quickly if they have to take on more responsibilities around the house. They may also feel like they have to take sides, favoring one parent over the other.
Tips for Helping Children Cope With Divorce
Parents can use some of the following techniques to help their children deal with the changes that divorce brings:
- Reassure the children that both of their parents still love them and the divorce was not the children’s fault
- Keep familiar items at both parents’ residences
- Be available to speak with children when they want to talk
- Answer all their questions honestly
- Remain active in children’s school and activities
- Maintain routines as much as possible
Consult an Attorney
Choosing to divorce is rarely easy, but may ultimately be the right decision. If you are considering divorce, contact an experienced family law attorney who can discuss your situation with you and advise you of all of your options.