If you and your spouse are considering calling it ending your marriage, you probably have many concerns. Divorce will almost certainly have an affect on your finances, living situation, and especially your children. What should you expect your children to experience and feel if you and your spouse go your separate ways? Every situation is unique, but experts largely agree that there are some common things to be aware of when it comes to how divorce will impact your child.
Common Responses Children Tend to Have
It not unusual for you to see behavioral changes in your child during a separation or divorce. Some kids will act noticeably different at first and then adjust over time, while others may keep feelings inside and not immediately react to their changes in their family. In fact, some children will have no reaction at all to the news that their parents are getting divorced. It takes time for kids to process and understand what is happening and what it means for them.
Children of all ages may experience feelings of guilt, frustration, anger and grief. They may have dramatic mood swings. Sometimes, a child’s appetite and sleeping patterns will change. Teachers may notice the child acting differently at school as well. Grades may drop or students who are usually not troublemakers might start acting out or refusing to follow the rules at school.
How to Help Your Child Through a Divorce or Separation
Child psychologist Donald T. Saposnek has some advice for parents who want to help their child navigate his or her confusing feelings during a divorce:
- Do not assume you know what your child is feeling. Many children hide their true feelings during a separation. They may not want to be a burden to their parents or they may simply not know how to express the emotions they are feeling;
- Reassure children that you and your spouse love and care about them. Some children assume that because their parents no longer want to be married that they also no longer care about them. Children may need to be reassured that they are loved often throughout the divorce process.
- Create a safe space for your child to be open and honest. Try to make time to play with and talk to your children during this difficult time. Engage them in activities that make them feel secure and happy. Explain to them that everything will eventually be okay. Allow them to ask questions if they need clarification.
- Stay positive. Many children who have parents who are no longer together lead happy, fulfilled lives. Research shows that it is much healthier for children to have parents who are separated than parents who are together but unhappy. Children are resilient and capable or adjusting to their new life.
A Family Lawyer Can Help
As you go through the process of divorce, you can help your children by establishing a measure of control over the situation. Doing so often requires the assistance of an experienced DuPage County divorce attorney. Contact our office today to schedule a free, confidential consultation at any one of our five convenient office locations.