Just like their parents, children feel the anxiety, stress, and pressures of separation and divorce proceedings. Their world is changing and how they envisioned their family life is going to be altered, forever. How your child reacts is largely based upon their age, relationship with both parents, and the reason for the separation and divorce.
Some of the more common emotions your child can experience, includes, but may not be limited to: anger, hurt, rage, sadness, worry, and frustration. They might also feel like they are the cause for the divorce and blame themselves, which can lead to depression. It is vital parents remember their children need help through this difficult time and should not be ignored.
In addition, parents need to minimalize disruptions in the household, as best as they can. It is never a good idea to argue in front of your children, as they will feel like they are being placed in the middle of the fight and have to choose one parent over the other. Keep heated discussions, arguments for times when the children are away from the home or you are able to keep the volume level down and speak privately with the other parent about these matters, where the children will not be able to hear.
Avoid blaming the other spouse for problems in front of the children. Even though you might feel like they are to blame for the divorce, it is better to air these feelings during private therapy sessions at a qualified counselling center. Adults do need support to get through their divorce, but should never seek this support from their children. Rather, both parents should remain active and involved in their children’s lives, while setting all divorce issues and concerns aside.
Do not put off telling your children you are getting divorced. If you say nothing, and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, mom and dad are living apart, the child will feel they are to blame for their parent’s divorce. Reinforce the reasons for the divorce have nothing to do with them, and that BOTH parents equally love them, and will continue to be there for them, even though they will no longer be living together under the same roof.
In addition, be prepared to answer questions your children might have, like living arrangements, visitation, activities, vacations, and so on. Even if you do not have an answer for a particular question, let them know you do not know, but you and their other parent will discuss it and give them an answer later.
If you notice your child’s behaviour starts to change, after informing them of the divorce or at any time during or afterwards, it could be beneficial for them to speak to a therapist about their feelings and concerns. Please feel free to contact Bayridge Counselling Centre at 905-319-1488 for help and the support you and your children need during divorce.