Understanding how divorce will impact your child’s life is the first step towards helping them to come to terms with what will likely be one of the biggest changes they will face in their childhood.
In this article, we take a look at how divorce can affect children and explain how you can help your child through the divorce process.
How divorce can affect children: age matters
Divorce can affect children of all ages. The way your child will react to and deal with divorce will largely come down to their age and their level of understanding about what is happening.
Babies up to around 18 months old, for example, will be able to feel any tension or conflict in the home between their parents. They may become clingy and may be upset more than usual. For this age group, keeping to a routine can be the most effective thing that you can do. Routine can help to reassure your baby that all is well, even if they are feeling the contrary. Regular mealtimes and bedtimes can make all of the difference to help your child feel secure at this age.
As children get older, it is common for them to blame themselves for their parents’ divorce. Once your child is old enough to talk, it is important to encourage them to discuss their feelings openly with you and their other parent. This way, you can ensure that they understand that the divorce is not their fault.
If possible, let your child see that you are working together with the other parent to care for them. This can help them to feel more secure. Again, routine is king, particularly with younger children.
Divorce can affect children in many ways
While there are common reactions that children have to divorce, divorce can affect children in a wide range of different ways. This is why it is vital to ensure that communication lines between you and your child are kept open.
For example, your child could blame you or their other parent for the divorce. They may feel angry that their family is not how it was and this anger could be directed at you or even the child’s teachers or friends at school.
On the other hand, your child could become withdrawn and not want to go to school at all. They may make up symptoms so they do not have to go to school or may even become ill from the stress of the divorce.
Urge your child to talk about their feelings
Your child may keep their feelings of betrayal or anger to themselves because they do not want to upset you or their other parent.
They may have worries that you would think irrational, such as being abandoned by both parents, but that their child’s brain feels are logical.
In order to help your child through the divorce, it is vital that you and, if possible, the other parent, set aside time to encourage your child to talk through any worries they have. Urge them to ask questions, no matter how silly they seem and reassure them that they are loved and the divorce is in no way down to them.
Making time for these conversations regularly can help your child through the divorce and out to a ‘new normal’ at the other side.
If you are going through a separation or divorce and would like advice about how to deal with child arrangements during and after divorce, get in touch to book your free consultation with one of our experienced today.