As a parent, your kids are important to you. You probably spend much of your time making sure that their needs are met and that they are given their best chance to succeed.
You are probably used to putting your children’s needs before your own, which may lead you to worry if you are considering asking your spouse for divorce. Many parents are concerned that divorce will be extremely damaging to their children. Some parents even stay together only for the sake of their children. However, divorce may not be as harmful to children as some parents fear.
How will kids react to news of their parents’ divorce?
Every child will react differently to news of his or her parents’ divorce. This is because every family’s situation is completely different, and every child is unique.
Some children may feel relieved. Others may feel angry or sad. Some kids may lash out in school and blame one parent for the divorce. Other children may withdraw, may blame themselves for the divorce or may regress to more juvenile behaviors.
Some factors that can affect how a child reacts, includes the child’s:
- Developmental stage
- Previous life experiences
- Support systems
Many kids experience some negative effects caused by divorce. Fortunately, most kids recover within about two years.
What can parents do to help kids cope with divorce?
There are a variety of ways parents can help their kids cope better with family changes like divorce. Parents may get to know how divorce usually affects children of different age groups. This can help parents know what reactions they might expect and consider how they may best respond to those reactions if they occur. Depending on the child’s age group, this could include maintaining certain routines, reading books about divorce with a child, talking about the child’s feelings or reminding the child that the divorce is not his or her fault.
However, one of the most important ways parents can help kids cope is by keeping parental conflict away from their kids. Frequent, heated parental conflict can be harmful to kids and can lead to health problems, poor social skills and poor problem-solving abilities.
Finding ways to work cooperatively with your child’s other parent during and after your divorce can help reduce parental conflict overall. It can also help kids learn good problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills.
However, it can be difficult to cooperate with an ex, especially when there are hurt feelings involved. If a disagreement does arise, consider scheduling a time to work out the issue when children will not see his or her parents fighting or hear raised voices, verbal insults or conflict about a child.
It can be difficult for parents to pursue divorce when they think it may hurt their children, and divorce is not always the best option. However, children can be more resilient than adults give them credit for being, especially when they have parents willing to help them adapt to their family’s new situation.