Although any divorce is an extremely sad, emotional time for all persons involved, when there are children involved, a divorce can create enormous instability and confusion, and can have very destructive consequences. In a family situation that includes children, the children are often present during arguments and the messy side of divorce, they become stuck in the middle, sometimes the focus of the emotional. While some couples manage to remain civilized during divorce, many will include times of intense screaming, yelling, accusations, slamming doors, and so on, all while the children sit there and watch.
The affect divorce has on children is massive, no matter their age and maturity levels. If you or someone close to you is going through a divorce where children are involved, it is important to be aware of the huge emotional and lifestyle shock these children are going through. These children are losing their stability, their home-security, their lifestyle, and often their home. In many cases, one half of the family unit move to a new neighborhood, city or state, where they have to pull themselves together and rebuild there lives, all with the thought of the divorce situation weighing heavily on their mind.
When dealing with divorce, it is absolutely imperative that both parents put their differences and current situation aside and ensure the children receive the unconditional love and support they need. Children affected by divorce need to be reassured that they did not do anything to cause the situation, that they are not to blame for the divorce. Younger children generally won”t have a full grasp of what”s going on, they will simply come to realize that mum and dad no longer seem to be present at the same time. Older children will be much more aware of what”s going on, and what has been said between the parents. Naturally, older children may be more emotionally interrupted in the time immediately after the divorce. If your divorce leads to a single parent having custody over the children, it is vital to put all hard feelings aside, and take all possible steps to ensure all children, no matter their age, have the opportunity to spend quality time with both parents.
A common scenario is to have the non-custodial parent to have the children over the weekend for three weeks of the month and then for 1-3 weeks over holidays. This is a good way to ensure your children stay in regular contact with both parents and have a good amount of time to spend with the non-custodial parent over holidays. It is always good to be able to arrange a custody schedule outside of the court. Keep in mind that even though you may be able to ”win” in court, the emotional damage to your children can be devastating. Your goal should never be to make the other person pay by depriving them of there children. Unless abuse or other special circumstances are involved, your ex-partner has a right to be part of their child”s life, and your child has the right to learn from and live with both parents.
The key to dealing with children post-divorce is that both parents need to put their personal feelings aside and focus on the well being of the children, to act maturely and make decisions regarding children with a clear head. If disagreements arise, try to organize meetings at a time or location when the children will not be present. In saying this, there will be times when decisions are made requiring the input of the children. In these times, you need to set some rules that both parents will remain civil, avoid making digs at the other parent, and treat the situation with respect. This is easier said than done with the level of emotion involved in these family affairs, but you must remain focused on doing the best for your children, and remember that they will be finding the situation difficult enough, with out provocation by either parent.
In other words, divorced moms and dads need to interact like mature adults, reminding themselves that the children are innocent, and have the right to living in harmony with both parents. All children react to situations such as divorce in their own way, some children may understand the reasons for their parents divorce and be able to work through it without hassle. Some children will take divorce alot harder. It is not uncommon to see behavioral issues developing in some children, acting out is a natural instinct and needs to be dealt with with understanding and patience. Dealing with these issues can be extremely difficult for divorced parents, it often means working together, finding a middle ground, and spending time with the child discussing their thoughts and feelings on the situation and what steps should be taken. This will lead to times of strong emotion, it is the responsibility of the parents to keep a level head, be patient with the child and other parent, and provide a safe, secure environment to work through the issues. When parents start to loose their cool, the whole situation can start to fall apart leading to further disruption for your child and making it harder to reach a resolution.
It is common knowledge that children will often learn to manipulate their parents after a divorce, playing one parent off the other. Again, parents need to communicate even though they are no longer married. Talking to the other parent before taking any action will often expose the full situation, and provide a clear path of how to deal with it. In other words, even though you are no longer married, working as a team is still the best option, not for the marriage but for the children. While it may be very hurtful to discover how you”re being manipulated by your own child, keep in mind that he or she is still developing and working through the lifestyle change. Be firm about what is expected of your children, but keep in mind the huge emotional and lifestyle effect your divorce has had.
Working through a divorce with children is by no means easy, getting to a point of stability will not happen overnight. In most cases, a tremendous amount of anger, disappointment, and hurt are involved, which are hard to work through. Counseling may be an option to help both parents and children get an outside perspective and gain direction. Although divorce creates many difficult emotions for parents, it all comes down to staying focused and determined to always to what”s best for the children, the innocent by-standers. You are your children”s single biggest role-model and support, you need to keep in mind the difficulties your children are living through and let your child know that you are there for them 100% of the time.
Kim offers help for couples and families going through marriage issues. Visit her site for information and advice on life after divorce, how to save your marriage, and acknowledging marriage problems (http://savemarriagetips.com/marriage_problems).custodial parent > older children