Divorce takes an enormous psychological toll on children. Even if children seem to be doing okay at the time, the deep seated trauma caused by divorce manifests itself later on in their lives in the form of mental health and behavioral issues. Even as grown adults, people who went through divorce during their own childhoods often suffer from more relationship difficulties than people who had a family unit with both parents. People who come from broken homes have a higher rate of divorce in their own marriages. The role we play in helping our children adjust to divorce as parents is what makes the difference in the psychological toll of divorce on children. Here are a few tips and strategies that can reduce the distress felt by children and help them adjust to the idea of divorce.
Try to come to a co-parenting solution amicably and peacefully:
The distress felt by children during divorce proceedings is directly proportional to the intensity of the conflict between the parents. Especially when child custody after divorce is under contention, the constant arguments, screaming, and fighting may cause behavioral issues in the children. Even if your relationship with each other isn’t overtly hostile, minor tensions between the parents may also cause an increase in the child’s distress. To minimize this, you should seek professional advice to help you come up with a co-parenting solution with your ex-spouse in an amicable and peaceful manner.
Try not to put your children in the middle:
Children who get caught in the middle of warring parents who can no longer stand each other are far more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. This is more prevalent among families embroiled in a nasty child custody case where the children feel like they are being made to choose between which parent they like best, or when one or both parents use them to glean information about the other or pass on messages to each other. Don’t use your child as the rope in a tug of war match no one can win.
Try to keep up a healthy relationship with your child and ex-spouse:
If you maintain a healthy relationship with your child, it will help them to develop a better self-esteem. Parental warmth, affection and low levels of conflict with your ex help children in adjusting to divorce better. Positive communication also helps maintain a child’s academic performance after divorce.
Try to empower your children:
When children start doubting their capability to deal with the major changes brought on by divorce, or if they start to think of themselves as helpless victims, you should step in. These sentiments in young children can cause some mental health problems later on. It is best to sit down with your child to teach, assure, and reassure them that they have the mental strength to handle this situation. You can teach them some active coping strategies, like problem-solving skills and cognitive restructuring skills. Teaching your children to manage their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a healthy way, helps them to adapt better to divorce.
Try to make your children feel safe:
The biggest fear that causes anxiety among children whose parents are divorcing is the fear of abandonment and concerns about the future. However, if you can help your child feel safe, secure, and loved, this will reduce their clinginess and lessen the risk of mental health problems later on in life.