No one ever gets married with plans to divorce in the future so when that time comes, it causes a slew of emotions for both spouses from anger to disappointment to pain to feelings of inadequacy, and everything in between. In fact, The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory lists divorce as the second-largest source of stress for human beings.
But notice, this is "human beings" (not just those being divorced) which means children, too, experience divorce as an incredibly stressful event in their lives. It helps to understand what they are going through, too, so you can help them navigate through the process that is certainly going to be very confusing for them.
Because - just as you and your spouse never imagined divorcing - your child/ren never imagined it, either so understanding what their worlds are like through your divorce will help you to help them.
The US National Library of Medicine reports that - in most cases - within two years of the initial separation, most parents have re-established themselves and the children, consequently, have adapted to their new lives and routines.
Every child is as different as their parents so not every child will have exactly the same experiences but there are some things that run across the board for children who are experiencing their parents' separation and divorce. It may feel like an impossible task when you and your spouse are going through the throes of divorce but putting your children first in divorce should be a priority.
Bear in mind that how you and your spouse work together for your child/ren's best interest before, during and after the divorce process, has far-reaching effects on their mental and emotional well-being.
Dr. Robert E. Emery has dedicated his life to focusing on family relationships - including how divorce affects children - and has published several books on the subject of children and divorce.
He states that there is not any clear-cut, simple answer for what children experience through a divorce but indeed, the process increases risks of psychological and behavioral problems - particularly for troubled children.
Additionally, parent-child relationships can become strained, causing more problems such as anger (more common among teens), disbelief, or sadness (more common among 8- to 10-year-olds). Many of these issues result in educational challenges for kids, especially as they age.
It can be even more traumatizing for a child if one of the parents checks out of the child/ren's life which is not uncommon in America. In fact, Pew Research reports that overall, 62 percent of fathers and 54 percent of mothers say they do not spend enough time with their children because they do not live in the home all of the time but 20 percent of fathers say "main reason they spend too little time with their children is that they don't live with them full-time."
But Dr. Emery says the resilience of children leads to their not developing these issues, as long as the parents are able to work together for the best of their kids.
So how can you - as the parents - ensure the well-being of your child as you all go through this life transition?
Talk to your child in an age-appropriate way and make sure you listen to them. Sometimes it can feel impossible to pay attention to any conversation when our minds are bombarded with racing thoughts, worries, and concerns but remind yourself that your child needs you now just as much as ever - perhaps even more.
In addition to communicating with your child, keep the line of communication open with your spouse when it comes to parenting (co-parenting). Studies show that when dealing withchildren of divorce teens who live equally with both parents have less psychosomatic problems but that's not always the case.
It's important, then, to maintain an open line of communication as you maneuver through the changes in your lives.
Regulate Negative Emotions
Of course, emotions are bound to surface through the dissolution of your marriage but one way to help your child through the process is to monitor your own emotional reactions.
Children are very perceptive and if you are emitting negative emotions in an already tumultuous situation, they may shut down, blame themselves, or become confused.
Try to keep calm during divorce by looking at the bigger picture. Divorce is never an emotionally easy process but keeping your perspective and focusing on the goal of an ultimate mutual agreement, you make the transition easier for your child.
Establish a Parenting Plan
In an uncontested divorce, this can be a fairly simple process by mutually agreeing on such important factors as:
- Child Care
- Medical Care
- Child Support
- Visitation/Living Arrangements
But often, trying to negotiate what's best for your child can evoke feelings of anxiety, anger, resentment, or sadness, regardless of the mutuality of the separation. In such a case, it can be of great benefit to have an expert divorce mediator to work with you and your spouse to establish clear guidelines and mitigate the tension created by trying to work through it by yourselves.
Professional divorce mediation helps you stay focused on what's best for your child in a much more expedient and cost-effective way than a courtroom divorce.
As difficult as this time will be, remember that you are more aware of the temporary nature of this change than your child is. By staying involved as much as possible in their life and doing your best to ensure their regular routines are as uninterrupted as feasible, you help them to adjust and not feel quite so lost.
Even if your divorce is an amicable one, it's still likely to be a confusing time for the children so the more you can do to make the transition smooth, the more helpful it will be for them.
At Split Simple, we work to find the bestdivorce approach - tailored to the interests of all parties involved including the children - and this takes a lot of pressure off our clients, allowing them to move forward with their lives.
Contact a Divorce Mediator in Denver Today
If you are interested in finding out more about how Split Simple can help you through the process, call us today at (855) 665-9920 or contact us for a free consultation.
1624 Market Street #202
Denver, CO 80202