Welcome to the second blog at Alliance Counseling Center. Today’s topic is about children and divorce. Children faced with divorce learn that life as they knew it will never be the same. It is normal for children whose parents are divorcing to experience a negative reaction. It is normal for them to express feelings of anger, sadness, guilt, and fear about the future. A child or family may need professional help if the feelings are unusually intense, prolonged in duration, cause physical symptoms, or interfere with normal daily functioning. Although the change brought about by divorce is unsettling for children, it need not always be a devastating experience. Everyone wants what is best for the children, but the needs and emotions of the parents may sometimes get in the way. The following chart of do’s and don’ts for parents is intended as a guide to assist their children in learning how to cope with the inevitable changes of divorce. Children that are kept out of the middle of their parents’ battles, and feel safe, secure, loved and valued are less likely to display behavioral problems, have issues in school, or develop symptoms of depression or anxiety.
DO’S AND DON’TS FOR PARENTS OF DIVORCE
- Tell your children together when the decision to divorce is made.
- Reassure your children that you love them, will always take care of them and look after their needs.
- Encourage your children to express feelings.
- Give your children a say, but take responsibility for the final decision yourself.
- Provide structure, predictability and be consistent with discipline.
- Accept your children’s love for their other parent.
- Make visitation transitions smooth.
- Support the other parent and make it easy for the other parent to have a good relationship with the children.
- Make it easy for the other parent to know what is happening with the children.
- Go directly to the other parent for information or an answer.
- Encourage your children to speak about their difficulties with the other parent.
- Encourage your children’s relationships with extended family members.
- Effectively handle birthdays, holidays and special occasions.
- Maintain family traditions and rituals.
- Have fun with your children.
- Threaten your children with abandonment.
- Blame your children for the divorce.
- Argue with your ex-spouse in front of the children.
- Use your children as a messenger or spy. Use your children as an ally by asking them to take your side .
- Place restrictions on what your children can tell your ex-spouse or ask them to keep secrets.
- Criticize your ex-spouse in your children’s presence.
- Make promises you can’t keep.
- Overcompensate for your divorce by trying to buy your children’s love.
- Participate in your children’s angry feelings about the other parent.
- Compare your children to your ex-spouse in a negative way.
- Burden your children with your personal and financial concerns.
- Falsely lead children to believe that you may reconcile with the other parent.
- Drag the children into the middle of your communications and problems with ex-spouse.
- Make numerous changes in the children’s lives during the first year of the divorce.
Ricca, Isolina. 1997. Mom’s house, dad’s house: A complete guide for parents who are separated, divorced, or remarried. New York: Fireside.
Long, Nicholas, and Forehand, Rex. 2002. Making divorce easier on your child: 50 effective ways to help children adjust. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Books For Children
Brown, Laurene, and Brown, Marc. 1988. Dinosaurs divorce: A guide for changing families. New York: Little Brown and Company.
Field, Mary Blitzer, and Shore, Hennie. 1994. My life turned upside down, but I turned it rightside up. New York: Childswork/Childsplay, LLC.
Field, Mary Blitzer. 1992. All about divorce. PA: The Center For Applied Psychology, Inc.