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Posts Tagged ‘Divorce’

Helping Children Cope with Divorce

It can be difficult for children to deal with their parents’ divorce. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers four things to keep in mind when helping children cope with divorce.

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  1. Although the stigma of divorce stings less these days, partly because it is so common, children almost never think it is as good an idea as the parents who seek it. Don’t insult them by trying to talk them into agreeing with your point of view about its benefits or its hazards. Children, especially the young ones, love having their families together and often feel anxious, angry and saddened when they begin to come apart.
  2. Most parents work at separating and divorcing without traumatizing their children. Children often recover from this loss without serious emotional scarring and with their ability to trust in relationships intact, especially when parents acknowledge how their children are feeling about this event and when children trust the adults to hear them out and love them through it.
  3. One of the most difficult aspects of divorce to young children, besides a change in family income and lifestyle that may accompany a divorce, is the threat to (or in some cases the end of) their parents’ friendship with each other. This particular loss may leave children feeling more alone and worried that they might be next.
  4. Boys and girls typically respond differently to divorce. Boys show their distress more obviously with behavioral, school or social troubles. Girls may seem okay at first with few outward signs of distress but may suffer the effects later when they enter their first close relationship and feel overwhelmed by self-doubt, suspiciousness and fear of abandonment.

Helping Your Child Cope with Divorce

Dr. Kyle Pruett AUnfortunately, half of American families face the likelihood of divorce.  Most of these families have children who will be affected, though it is hard to tell exactly how.

Here is what parents should know to help their children cope with divorce:

  • Although the stigma of divorce stings less these days, children almost never think it is as good an idea as the parents who seek it.  Don’t insult them by trying to talk them into agreeing with your point of view.  Children love having their families together and feel anxious when they start to come apart.
  • Most parents work at separating and divorcing without traumatizing their children.  With your support, children will recover from this loss without emotional scars or their ability to trust in relationships.
  • Perhaps the most difficult aspect of divorce to children, besides a change in family income and lifestyle that may accompany a divorce, is the threat to or end of their parents’ friendship with each other.  This particular loss may leave children feeling pretty alone and worried that they might be next.
  • Boys and girls typically respond differently to divorce; boys show their distress more obviously with behavioral, school, or social troubles.  Girls may seem okay at first with few outward signs of distress, but may suffer the effects later when they enter their first close relationship and feel overwhelmed by self-doubt, suspiciousness, and fear of abandonment.

Children who handle divorce best are the ones whose parents honor their children’s needs above their own, are able to work out good and fair financial arrangements and parenting plans, and most importantly – help the other parent be the best parent they can be.  In other words they are the children who don’t lose their families – just their parents’ marriage to each other.  This may be the most selfless and difficult thing parents ever do.