|Do you have some concerns about the effects of divorce unto your children? If yes, then sit tight and learn what you should do to help children adjust to divorce.
Researchers are divided about the effects of divorce on children. Some researchers argue that divorce is traumatic for a child of any age while others argue that divorce offers only a minor setback for most children. However, both agree that all children of divorced parents experience some measure of difficulties above and beyond the normal challenges of childhood.
Divorce, marital conflict and separation are almost always very stressful events in the life of a child. In the months after the separation, most children will show signs of one or more of the following: aggression, anger, anxiety, sadness, not sleeping well, uncooperative behavior, and disrupted concentration at school.
The length of this initial period of distress varies from child to child and child's reaction to divorce will also vary. Some may be short-term reactions that are in response to the crisis nature of divorce. Others may be long-term reactions that could be either positive or negative depending on how parents are able to help children adjust to divorce.
There are numerous factors that effect the reaction and the duration of children's adjustment to divorce. Among others, these are the level of conflict between parents, how parents adjust to divorce, how children are inform relative to divorce, level of support available to children, children's personality, children's ability to deal with stress, age and developmental level of children.
Through our own actions, we can influence some of these factors, others we may have no control over. Researchers have estimated that the period of adjustment for children of divorced parents can range anywhere from 6 months to three years, and sometimes even as long as five, depending on the circumstances surrounding the divorce.
Research indicates that many of the harmful effects of divorce can be lessened when parents make a concerted effort to keep the best interests of their children as their first priority. Here are some ideas that can help children adjust to divorce:
Maintain consistent and stable routines
One way to help children adjust to divorce is to keep consistent routines. Having consistent routines is very important for children of divorce, because it helps them to feel secure. Continue routines such as bedtime rituals, reading books together, and celebrating birthdays and holidays. Make every effort to keep children in the same school and neighborhood. If they have to go through a lot of changes, such as a new home or school, try to establish new routines quickly.
Help children share and deal with their feelings
Children of divorcing parents experience a wide range of emotions, including anger, fear, guilt, loneliness, rejection and sadness. They will need time to mourn their lost family and adjust to new circumstances. More so they need to know that their feelings and concerns are taken seriously. Encourage your children to talk about their feelings. Listen, without cutting them off with statements like, "Don't feel sad," or, "You shouldn't be mad." Acknowledge their feelings and discuss appropriate ways to deal with them.
Reassure children that the divorce is not their fault
Many children believe they are the cause of their parents' divorce. Often they think that if they had behaved better or done better in school, Mom and Dad would still be together. Reassure your child that the divorce is not his fault, that it's not their job to "fix" things, and that you will always be there for them. Tell them that there is nothing they can do to change the situation.
Provide structure and positive discipline
Positive and consistent discipline is essential for raising healthy children. Some parents may become stricter, setting lots of rules and not allowing any flexibility, because they are having a harder time managing their child's behavior. Other parents may become less strict, allowing their child to do things they wouldn't normally allow because they feel bad about the divorce, because they are too preoccupied with their own concerns to closely monitor their children.
All children need to know what behavior is appropriate and what is not, so be sure you set proper limits and provide guidance. Be clear about what behavior is acceptable, what is not acceptable, and what the consequences are for non-compliance. Consistently impose consequences. Although being consistent is especially difficult for parents during times of stress, this is precisely when children need structure the most.
Keep both parents involved
Some parenting issues require communication and coordination between parents. Each parent should encourage involvement of the other. Work as a team. Both of you should be responsible for raising the children. Each parent should keep the other informed about each child. . If you support the parenting of the other partner, you'll make it easier for him or her to have a good relationship with your children, which is healthy for them.
Help children maintain positive relationships with both parents
Children need stable, loving relationships with both parents. When your child wants to spend time with the other parent, don't see it as rejection of you but as a healthy desire to stay connected to both Mom and Dad. Encourage your children to enjoy time with the other parent. Support their relationship with your ex-spouse. In almost all cases, it is best for children to have a close relationship with both of their parents.
Don't put your child in the middle-allow him to love both parents
Your child wants to love both parents. Do not put him in a situation where he has to choose between you or your ex-spouse. The child generally cares for both parents and putting him on situations where he has to choose one parent and reject the other is very stressful.
Don't use your child as a go-between
Don't send messages to your ex-spouse through your child or ask your child for information about your ex-spouse. Handle matters directly with your ex-spouse. Communicate directly with your ex-spouse about visits with your children, child support, legal issues, and other matters.
Allow your child to be a child
Children need their parents to take care of them. While some responsibility is great for children, they should not be expected to comfort you, counsel you, comfort you, or be your sounding board about important decisions. Rely on friends and family of your own age and maturity. Parents are supposed to support their children, not the other way around.
Manage the conflicts between you and your former spouse
Parent conflict can devastate children. Get the skills necessary to work out your disagreements in ways that will benefit your children. Taking a class to learn conflict management skills may help.
Develop a support network of family, friends and community resources
These can provide emotional and practical help for children during divorce and afterwards. Grandparents can play an especially important role. Religious organizations can help. Quality childcare centers and schools can provide a nurturing, structured, predictable environment for children.
Spend time with your child
Spend one-on-one time with each child regularly. Let your child know that he can always come to you with any concerns he may have. Tell your child often that he will continue to be loved and taken care of.
Divorce is not an enjoyable experience for anyone, but much can be done to mediate the damaging effects. If parents are committed to the well-being of their child and minimize negative experiences, children can lead happy, well-adjusted lives. Use the information above to help your children adjust to divorce.
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With the above information, I hope you will become an empowered divorced parent and believe that you can raise healthy, happy and successful children even if you're divorce.