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The emotional and psychological needs of children during divorce

In a divorce it is always wise to put the needs of your child ahead of the needs of yourself. There are some out there that will tell you that unless you take care of your own needs you are not going to be capable of taking care of the needs of your child. I would push back against this idea. After having worked with many families who have gone through divorce I can tell you that there are very few people that are completely willing to neglect their own needs and position their case in a way that benefits their children to the greatest extent possible with that said, we all have more room to be generous and conscientious of the needs of the people in our lives. If you are going through a divorce and are apparent than the needs of your child should be at the top of your list.

Among the other realities of divorce is that divorce brings about change, sometimes dramatic change for families. No matter how well settled you think your family is despite the divorce I can almost promise you that you will be facing a great deal many changes as a result of having gone through your divorce. Some of those changes will be for the better while some will not. Some of these changes are ones that you can foresee and some of them will hit you like a ton of bricks out of nowhere. They say that change is inevitable but sometimes we wish that change would slow down so that we can catch up. 

The benefit of going through a divorce as an adult is that you have some frame of reference that life will reach a point of normalcy in the future and that you will be able to adjust to the changes that you have undergone in your life. Just when you think that the changes will not stop your life will reach a point where things begin to slow down and you begin to find a rhythm once again. As much as we all crave change in our day-to-day lives if you were to ask a person going through divorce what they want I can always promise you that they will tell you that the changes they are experiencing are ones they wish would slow down and allow them to catch their breath. 

That is one thing that I will talk to people who are considering a divorce to think about before they pull the trigger. Namely, of all the things that you are fed up with in frustrated with about your marriage, family life and everything in between how much of those frustrations have to do with you and things you can change and how much have to do with the fact that you are married to your spouse? If a lot of the changes that you believe are necessary, can be done only by you then you may not need a divorce after all. It is true that it is now easier to get a divorce than at any time in the history of our country, but the reality is that sometimes the divorce that you seek is not the best for you or your family. 

The reality of divorces is that many of the changes we seek are ones that we can provide to our lives ourselves without going through the difficulties and hard link of divorce. However, to come to that conclusion you must look at yourself with a keen eye and be tough on yourself based on your own shortcomings, selfish tendencies, shortsighted critiques of your spouse and other defects that we all have in our personalities. This may seem like harsh language, and believe me I am guilty of these traits myself, but to really be honest with ourselves we need to be able to take a somewhat harsh look that's where we come up short in our marriages and then work together with their spouses to remedy those problems where we are able. 

These are all things that we would like to think that we would do with our kids as well. Your children art works in progress. It's true enough that adults are also works in progress, but the clay of our lives is hard and compared to our kids, so to speak. That means that while it is more difficult for an adult to change their life or their habits it is somewhat easier for a child to do. No person in the life of your child plays a bigger role in that process than you do. This is a responsibility that you take a great deal of pride and ownership over in all areas of your child's life. Why wouldn't you take the same perspective when it comes to your divorce? 

While we have better perspective on our lives by virtue of being adults, your children do not have that luxury. If you feel sometimes like your child responds in ways to various stimuli that you never would it is likely that this is due to their immaturity and lack of life experience. most kids reacted ways that seemed normal to them, in regard to a divorce but to us can seem out of character or strange. Again, these reactions that we have our base that are having adult brains in approaching a divorce with adult experiences in mind.  If you were to look at your divorce through the eyes of your children, then you may have a completely different perspective on matters. 

That is what I would like to discuss with you today. Your child has emotional and psychological needs and all times of their life, but those needs become even more acute during a divorce. Depending on the age of your child those needs maybe especially difficult to manage and to overcome. What you need to do as the parent is to focus on those needs and to keep them in mind when you are negotiating your way through your divorce case. Everyone reading this blog has different circumstances within their marriage but if you are a parent your end goal of the divorce should be similar to the rest of us: to put your children first in all things. 

The emotional and psychological needs of your child can vary based on their age 

teenagers as anyone who has ever parented a team can tell you, are in a tough spot as far as their emotions are concerned. When we look at a teenager, we may see a little adult. Physically, teenagers are more developed than children and take on characteristics of adults in their mannerisms, build and overall way that they conduct themselves. Depending on the maturity of your teen you may forget that he or she is actually still a child at all. However, underneath the adult looking demeanor is a brain that is not yet fully developed and needs to be taken into consideration when you are working through a divorce. 

While teenagers maybe less apt to blame themselves for your divorce, they may be more ready to place the blame of the divorce at the feet of one parent or the other. Like most of us, teenagers are quick to judge and can be more ready to say either mom or dad is at fault for the divorce in place the blame of the breakup of the marriage at that parents beat. This puts you in a difficult position as a parent because your child likely has a limited view on the circumstances of your case and on top of that is not ready or able ugly, too consider the totality of the circumstances that you have gone through. 

For teenagers, you need to be able to talk to them on a mature level about the subject matter in the divorce that relates to them. You do not need to necessarily dumb down your language or talk to your teen as a child. Teenagers will appreciate you approaching them as adults but doing so with loving in firm language. No matter how much it may seem like your teen craves their independence deep down your teenager also understands that he or she still is in need of discipline and structure from you. You can provide your child with stability and consistency by letting him or her know how the divorce works in what a likely timeline is. 

The emotional and psychological needs of school aged children 

If you are the parent of children who are in school but are not yet teenagers, then these are kids who are more likely to blame themselves for the divorce the neither parent. Kids at this age tend to view the world just through the prism of themselves being the center of the universe. This is a narcissism that we as adults have, hopefully, learned to set aside but kids are not able to do at that age. As a result, the breakup of your marriage must somehow be directly tied to him or her. This puts a lot of strain on relationships and places a great deal of stress on the minds of school age kids.

you can do a lot of good for your school age children by assuring him or her that the breakup of your marriage has nothing to do with your kids. School age children are not yet able to comprehend the issues up a complicated marriage, but you can assure him or her that each parent still loves your child and that that will not change no matter what happens in the divorce. You can also counsel your child by providing him or her information about how you are going to make sure to keep him or her at the center of your life despite anything else that is going on. Final part of this would be to ensure that, during your divorce, you always take the time to stabilize and strengthen relationships by spending time with your school aged kids.

The emotional and psychological needs of preschool aged children 

finally, do not discount the impact of a divorce on your children who are not yet school aged. Just because these kids may not yet be reading does not mean that your children cannot read you and your emotions quite well. It is likely that these kids don't even know what divorce is in have never even heard the word. With that said, they will begin to very quickly pick up on the changes that you all are undergoing most notably a change regarding mom and dad no longer living together. This can throw your children for a loop especially if they are used to mom and dad both being at home. 

While there is no substitute for both parents being in the home you can work with your spouse to be together as frequently as possible and to share the parenting load. Detailed talks about the divorce cannot happen with preschool age children but constantly reinforcing your love by physical action is highly desirable. The emotional and psychological needs of your child who is not yet school age are directly tied to physical acts of love. If you can continue to display affection, physical presence and love for your pre-school aged kids then they will be better off no matter what happens in the divorce. 

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

if you have any questions about the material contained in today's blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone in via video. Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in serving our community and look forward to discussing the services that our firm can provide to you and your family in one of these consultations. Thank you for showing an interest in our blog and we hope that you will join us again tomorrow as we continue to post unique content about the world of Texas family law. 


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