parenting

How Does Divorce Affect Your Children?

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A month ago, my life was turned upside down and I’ve been dealing with the aftermath of the mess that was created. I’ve been married to who I thought was the love of my life; however, that changed a few years ago when I was diagnosed with major health problems.

My husband of 10.5 years decided he didn’t want to be married anymore. I was crushed because if you asked me 11 years ago, I thought that our vows meant something and that we both said that we didn’t want a divorce.

My heart aches for my little boy, who is trapped in the middle of adult problems. He understands that his daddy is going to be married to mommy anymore and that we won’t all live together either. But just like with any change in the household, divorce affects children in different ways and they are the ones that suffer. We wanted to share some tips on how to help your child cope with the effects of divorce.

Keep Their Routine Consistent

Even though divorce is hard on children, it is very important to keep their routine consistent. Too many changes happening at once is very hard any children whose parents are in the middle of a divorce. Children thrive on routines that are consistent and predictable, just like when you and your spouse were together.

Consistency helps reduce your child’s anxiety and gives them the security that they need in order to cope with the changes. Remember that your child just lost a two-parent home and your child is being forced to cope with the changes that they had no control over. While kids are resilient, they are having to face their own fears about the situation.

Expect Your Child to Exhibit Some Behavioral Problems

Don’t be surprised if your child exhibits some behavioral problems, this is normal during the transition phase. They are used to both parents being there for them and now they are having to process that the other parent is gone from the home. Kid’s don’t always know how to talk about what they are feeling.

Instead, they act out their feelings of anger, sadness, confusion, or frustrations about the situation. You want to watch out for the behavior and nip it in the bud before your child gets of control or destructive.

Do enlist the help of professional counselors. Also, you can sit down one on one with your child and try to get them to talk with them about their fears and feelings. Communicating with your child can make a huge difference in their behavior and help them understand that their feelings are valid.

Grades May Slip

Don’t be surprised if your child’s grades may slip during the transition phase. It is important to let your child’s teacher and school counselor know what is going on at home. Your child’s teacher spends a huge chunk of time with your child. They can help watch for signs of depression so that you can seek help for your child.

Single parents typically have to now do the job that was shared between two parents. As a parent, you may be struggling to make dinner, get the kids a bath, handle the chores, and have time to sit down to help your child with their school work.

Even though being a single parent is hard, sometimes we have to make sacrifices to help them through this period. I always keep microwave meals or make meals that don’t take a ton of time. This frees up some time so that I have the ability to sit down and help my child with their school work.

Handling a Move During a Divorce

During the divorce process, at some point you may have to move to a new home. This can be scary for your child especially if you are having to change schools. Staying in the same school district is always possible but that is something that your child may not understand. Once we move in a few months, hopefully he will meet some new friends before school starts, if not I plan on talking to him about the changes, what to expect, and assure him that he will make new friends.

Your Child’s Views of Marriage May Change

Divorce may change your child’s view on marriage. It is best to talk to your children about the importance and benefits that marriage brings. Your child’s approval of premarital sex, cohabitation, and divorce rises dramatically if their parent’s divorce. Teenagers are more likely to be promiscuous if they don’t value marriage.

Assure Your Child This Isn’t Their Fault

Please take the time and assure the divorce isn’t their fault. Explain to them that sometimes parents just don’t agree on issues and decide to separate. You don’t have to give them more details. Do make sure that you show your child affection and let them know that divorce will never cause you to give up on them. When my parents divorced, this was a big deal to me. Not having mom and dad there to support me on daily basis was tough at first.

View Divorce As The Easy Way Out

Conflict and problems are normal during the marriage. But when parents decide to divorce, especially if you didn’t have frequent arguments. During my marriage, the only disagreements that we had all related to my complicated health problems and money. Do be honest about why you are divorcing but keep it simple.

It is sad and I hope that my child never sees divorce as the easy way out. Because divorce causes far more problems than it solves in the end. But I do want my child to understand when a divorce is acceptable. I refer to the bible when talking to my child about divorce. God allows divorce if there is adultery or abuse. There is no reason why a child needs to witness either of these interactions.

Witness Abuse

No one sets out to abuse their spouse but it does happen. For instance in my case, my child had to witness the see the symptoms of my depression due to the circumstances leading up to our divorce (another story for another day). Your child never should have to witness any form of abuse. If you are being abused, please seek help from a professional to help you safely leave the relationship.

Teach Your Child About Self-Care

Divorce is hard on everyone. With all of the recent changes, it is important as a parent to practice self-care. Your child is watching you and taking care of yourself is important. It is hard to care for a child, if you are not the best version of yourself. Now is also a great time to teach them about self-care too. Here are a few ideas: going outside to play, have a date night with your child, take a bath to relax and unwind, color, listen to music, or try one of these 50 self-care activities that you can do with your child.

If you are considering a divorce, please remember that if there are children involved that you carefully think about it before following through. Marriage counseling can help couples overcome most communication problems. However, this only works if both parents are willing.

Divorce affects the entire family but the children are the ones who suffer the most. Please don’t stay in a relationship just for the sake of the kids though. You want to ensure that your kids understand what a healthy marriage and relationship. Trust me they are watching you more than you think they are and will carry this information with them into their future relationships.

Have you considered how divorce effects your children? Do you have any other suggestions for parents, who are in the middle of a divorce, to help their child adjust to the changes?

icecreamnstickyfingers

Christy has three children. She has over 22 years of parenting experience, including parenting as a young mom, a single parent, and dealing with chronic illness/pain. When she isn't writing, you can find her coloring, playing Candy Crush, and listening to Taylor Swift.

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