Adjusting well to the life-changing transitions brought on by divorce is important for the whole family, but making it through the process without a few battle scars is unlikely. Even the most civil, considerate couples will experience a few bumps in the road due to the inevitable emotional toll divorce takes on the mind and body. If you have children, the emotional footwork is double fold, as it takes more energy, patience, and dedication to care for the young, developing minds in the family in addition to your own needs.
What Children Struggle with Most
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), children of parents who remain in high conflict marriages instead of divorcing tend to have more problems as they grow up. Research shows that within two years after a divorce, a majority of children are able to adjust well, although many factors can impact the quality of the adjustment period.
When parents split up, children face all the same challenges parents do, including worry over living arrangements, possible relocation, and how they will be provided for once one parent is no longer around. Sudden change and disruption to routine are especially difficult for children, which can often lead to coping problems. These struggles may present themselves via behavioral changes, such as strange sleep patterns, changes in eating habits, and aggressive or isolated behavior at school and at home.
How You Can Help
Thankfully, there are a multitude of ways divorcing parents can help their kids cope during and after the separation. Experts from Psychology Today and research from the APA suggest the following:
- Prepare – Any advanced preparations you can make before you file for divorce can ease your child’s anxiety about the impending separation. At the very least, do your best to give children notice before a parent moves out. You can also help with this transition by allowing children to visit the parent’s new home. Additionally, if relocation will be involved, visit their new school and show them around to acquaint them with their new surroundings.
- Be Vocal – Communication is everything in divorce, especially where children are concerned. Kids of all ages have trouble understanding what is happening when things suddenly change, with no warning. Do your best to explain the separation to your child as it unfolds, piece by piece, and reassure them that the split has nothing to do with them. Children need to know they are not at fault for mom and dad going their separate ways.
- Practice Self Care – We have all heard the saying, practice what you preach, and it definitely applies here. When your children see you taking care of yourself in the midst of the divorce transition, they are likely to feel more secure and at ease, as it implies you are taking control of the situation and will care for them, too. Work on the basics: Get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise regularly to manage stress.
- Reach Out – It also helps to talk with a therapist to take care of your emotional health. This practice can also extend to your children, as well. Consider parent-child sessions or allow your children to speak in private with the therapist on their own. Additionally, attempt to cooperate with your spouse, especially in front of your children. Bridge any gaps in communication and attempt to resolve any disagreements as they arise to diffuse ongoing conflict in front of the kids.
Coping with divorce is naturally difficult for parents and children alike. However, few proactive steps can help you increase your chances of lessening the stress and tension for everyone. As you navigate the separation process and prepare for the post-divorce lifestyle, consider speaking with a knowledgeable DuPage County divorce attorney who can address your concerns and protect your rights in a court of law. Call Roscich & Martel Law Firm, LLC at (630) 793-6337 today for a personal consultation.