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How Divorce Can Affect Children

Divorce is one of those issues that a person can go through in life that will impact him or her in ways that are both similar to other people and unique to them. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances of the divorce. When you work with enough divorce cases you start to see similarities between the different types of cases just as much as you see differences. You see how people are many times dejected to start a divorce then learn to handle and persevere through the case once it gets moving. You see how people start to get hope as the divorce goes from its beginning to its middle stages. Finally, you see the relief when the case is over with. That much is the same across the board no matter how different the other facets of a divorce case may be from one another. 

This is how adults approach the subject of divorce. How a child may approach divorce is anything but predictable. Children have no life experiences when compared to adults. Sure- some children have had some things happen in their life that are one-of-a-kind or memorable. However, most children have only experienced life through the prism of a relatively sheltered and limited perspective. Children view the world through the lens that is supplied to them by their parents. Otherwise, we see that children don’t know what to make of divorce until they start to experience the case and the changes that it will bring to their day-to-day lives.

Telling your child about the divorce

Unless we are dealing with infants and toddlers, you are probably to tell your child something about getting a divorce. That doesn’t mean that you need to get into the gory details of the case. Your child probably does not need to know about the exact reasons why you and your spouse are getting divorced. However, what you can discuss with your child is that a divorce is happening and what it means for your family in the short and long term. That’s a discussion to have with an older child. Younger children may need to know even less. Going to stay with Dad in a new house, splitting time between homes, and things of this nature may be all you need to talk about with your child. 

I have four kids. One of the tough parts of parenting children, when they are young, is that you do not necessarily know what your child is thinking or experiencing. The same can be said of an older child or even an adult, but at least you can ask the older child or adult what is happening to them, and you can get a response. Younger children cannot describe to you what is going on. Even children once they can speak cannot always muster the right words or form sentences well enough to be able to express exactly what they are thinking. So, what can you do as a parent when it comes to managing your children as you head into a divorce? After you take the time to bring up the divorce and await what they have to say what should you do?

Listen. We as parents are not always good at listening to our kids. We are used to being the ones in charge and in a place where we can dictate what is said to our kids and what we take in from our kids. This is not an ideal perspective to take when you have children who are going to try to tell you how they feel about a big deal like a divorce. Some children will ask very practical questions about visitation with both of you, school, summertime and holiday plans, and other things like this. These kids are already anticipating the changes that are going to come with the divorce and as a result, want answers about what lies ahead. You may not have to wait long for these children to begin asking you questions about the case. 

For other children, you need to be able to show some restraint to help your child express themselves about the case. Listen to your child. If he or she does not want to talk to you about the case right now the best, you may be able to do is wait the situation out and allow him or her to be able to tell you in their time and on their schedule about the divorce and all the changes that are going to come their way. This is a natural reaction for children to have. If you have a younger child, then he or she may truly not understand what a divorce is and how the divorce will impact them. Their thoughts are much more immediate than on anything long-term. 

What you and your spouse can do, no matter the age of your children is to present yourselves as a united front when you have a conversation with them about the divorce. Now, this may be the last thing that the two of you feel like doing. There may be something holding both of you back from doing this. Your pride, ego or even your hurt feelings about going through a divorce could prevent you from having this type of discussio