Even if you and your spouse end up having the most amicable divorce the state of Tennessee has ever seen, your children may still have a hard time coping with it. While most parents understand this and are willing to stay focused on determining what the kids need and how to support them, children also have an innate gift for pretending that can make it difficult for parents to know how they’re really doing inside.
Listed below are three types of behavior children exhibit when not handling divorce in a health way and a few suggestions for how you can help.
1. Taking sides. Kids do this naturally in many of the games they play so it’s no surprise that they sometimes do this during the divorce process too. What can you do to help? Reassure them that this is grown-up business and that they don’t need to take sides and get involved. Let them know that you both love them and encourage them to be loving toward both of you too.
2. Closing ranks. Divorce creates a lot of anxiety for adults and even more for children. In families with multiple children, uncertainty about the future or Mom’s and Dad’s ability to care for them will sometimes cause kids to cling together and depend on each other for comfort, companionship and help. What can you do? Remember to spend time being Mom or Dad for your kids no matter how crazy or demanding the divorce process gets.
3. Keeping the peace. Kids make assumptions and run with them. In the midst of a divorce, children sometimes get the idea that they can prevent parents from fighting if they stay at home. What can you do? Let your child know that you appreciate his or her concern but assure them that they’re out of a job because Mom and Dad are getting help and finding new ways to manage their differences other than fighting. (So long as that’s true.)
Source: Huffington Post, “Are the Kids Alright?,” Marie Hartwell-Walker, June 7, 2012