Children And Divorce: What You Should Know

“Therapeutic play is healing! Play is a child’s art form and vehicle in which children process learning, development and especially trauma. It takes an insightful and creative therapist to assist each individual child … to heal through their play.”

Kim Christink

The potential negative effects of divorce on children, has been very well documented over the last forty years. A light spirited child can withdraw to an introverted insecure little person. Stress uncared for can trigger more serious issues of depression and anxiety.

Most separations and divorce are tough. They are tough with good reason. There are many losses. Just a few are:

  • Loss of hopes and dreams
  • Loss of a life partner
  • Loss of quality time with children
  • Loss of economic resources
  • Loss of emotional support
  • Loss of choice
  • School & Work Achievement
  • Self-esteem & Confidence

Divorce Tends to Increase:

  • Stressors
  • Conflict
  • Chaotic atmosphere
  • Anger
  • Disobedience
  • Emotional pain
  • Concentration & Discipline
  • Behavioural problems

Divorce can trigger:

  • Chronic Anger
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Developmental Delays
  • Eating Disorders

Often parents self-esteem take a huge hit, and their coping mechanisms are stretched thin. When tension, hostility, anger, frustration, and sadness are in the forefront of a divorce, children are likely to have a harder time dealing with the separation and change. These kinds of feelings are very powerful and, when left unchecked, have the potential to be hurtful to the children. Angry, hurt feelings towards a spouse may unintentionally be displaced onto children. When these things happen, the children are caught in the middle and their needs tend to be overlooked. Many children in this position need something to help them deal with the separation and loss elicited from the divorce and the hostility between their parents; they need the chance to talk with a safe someone outside the family. When parents are too caught up in their own emotions and preoccupied with the ex-spouse, the children’s need’s can be missed.

Divorce is probably in the top two stressors a child can experience in life along with death. Wise parents understand that there is tremendous value in navigating these times with as little damage as possible. Both the parents’ feelings and the children’s feelings are valid and need to be expressed in healthy ways so they can be better managed. In this way, parents can be sure that their feelings are not overshadowing the needs of their children. This is where our professional therapists come along side to process, ground and center both parent and child in order to transition well.

You might want to believe that you can do this best on your own. Research would say different. While good civil divorces show little effects upon children… they are rare. While children are incredibly resilient, they are also incredibly vulnerable. They are our greatest assets. I know you agree with me when it comes to my children’s health and well being, the risk that separation and divorce bring is too much risk to leave for chance.

Let us journey with you. It is normal to need others to support, coach and facilitate through the difficult changes that separation and divorce present us with. We love the kids we work with. They are precious! What I love to see however is how much our kids love our children’s therapists.


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