Currently, one out every two marriages ends in divorce and a large number of divorcing families include kids. The divorcing parents are often so worried about how the divorce will affect their kids. In the course of this difficult period, most parents may be so engrossed in their own problems, but they still continue to be the most important people in the lives of their kids.
Even though parents may be shattered or relived by the divorce, kids are always terrified and confused by the threat to their security. A number of parents may feel so hurt or even overwhelmed by the divorce that they might turn to their children for comfort and direction. This may add to the stress and pressure a kid is experiencing. Divorce can be misunderstood by kids not unless parents tell them what’s going on, how they’re involved and not involved in the whole process, and what will happen to them after the divorce.
Most frequently, kids believe that they are the cause of the conflict between their parents. A great number of children assume the responsibility for bringing both their parents back together, thus causing them even more stress.
The traumatic loss of one or even both parents through divorce may result in vulnerability to both the physical and mental illnesses in kids. However, with proper care and attention, the strengths of a family can be mobilized during a divorce, and children can be helped to constructively deal with the purpose of parental conflict.
Talking to your kids about divorce is very difficult. The following tips can help both the kid and parents with the challenge as well as the stress of these conversations:
· First, don’t keep the divorce a secret or wait up until the last minute. It may be even more difficult for the kids to cope with the idea of the divorce when told at the last minute. When you decide to talk to your kids about the divorce, include your spouse in the talk too, if possible.
· Keep things really simple and straight-forward, and remember not to share more information than your children are asking for. Remember not to say anything negative about the other parent or his/her friends and family to your kids. This might end up complicating the whole situation. Your kids need to be reassured that you both still love them and will always be their parents. You don’t want to make the other parent look bad in the eyes of your kids.
· Admit to your kids that this will be really sad and upsetting for everyone. However, while doing this, remember that you can always discuss your feelings with your kids to an extent that they understand them, but don’t let your kids know that you’re terrified of the future. This is because your kids will be terrified as well. Rather, maintain a balanced emotional standpoint that concentrates on the difference between facts and feelings.
· Reassure your kids that the divorce isn’t their fault. If you don’t do this, your kids will blame themselves for causing the conflict that resulted in the divorce, and they may try doing the impossible to bring the both of you back together. This might only hurt your kids even more in case they don’t succeed.
Parents need to be very alert to signs of distress in their kids. Young kids might react to divorce by getting more violent and uncooperative or by simply withdrawing. Older kids might feel profound sadness and loss. Their school performance may be affected and behavior problems are also common. As teenagers and adults, kids of divorce can have a hard time with their own relationships and experience self-esteem problems.
However, kids will do well if they know that both their parents will still be there for them and will also be involved with them even if the marriage is coming to an end and the parents will not live together. Very long custody disputes or the pressure on a kid to choose sides can be especially harmful for the child and can add to the damage caused by divorce. Research shows that kids do better when their parents can minimize conflict and try to cooperate for the sake of the kid.
In conclusion, an ongoing commitment of parents to their kid’s well-being is very essential. If a kid shows any signs of distress, the family pediatrician or doctor can refer the parent to a kid and adolescent psychiatrist for evaluation and treatment. Furthermore, the psychiatrist can meet with the parents to help them learn how to make the stress of the divorce easier for the whole family.