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The Effects of Divorce on Children


This year we have seen lots of celebrity break ups. There was Jon and Kate, with their band of eight, Rosie O’Donnell and and Kelli Carpenter, long time couples like Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, John and Elizabeth Edwards and Tiger and Elin Woods, just to name a few. While the media focuses on the romantic turmoil of Hollywood’s elite, little attention is given to the innocent-sweet faced casualties. The children!

Divorce is very difficult and an especially confusing time for children. Couples often get caught up in their own anger, drama, the messy divorce process, the desire for revenge and the division of property and finances. But, who is looking out for the children and what are the effects of divorce on children?

It is important for parents to foster children’s long term adjustment to divorce. It is not only an adjustment for you, it is also an adjustment for them. It is your responsibility as a parent to buffer the pain of divorce and to reassure your children that it was not their fault and that everything will be o.k. Don’t use your children as pawns in negotiating.

I recommend to couples a Child Friendly Divorce. I suggest couples build and nurture a good relationship with their children during the turbulent divorce process. Spend lots of time with your children. Even more time than usual, if necessary. Just because you are going through a divorce, do not neglect or reduce the amount of time you spend with your children. They need you now more than ever.

Don’t bad mouth the other parent! This temptation is hard for some adults to overcome. Remember, your child doesn’t always feel the way you do about your spouse. Your spouse is still mom or dad to your child. Listen to your child. Resist the impulse to get your child to take sides. Your side…

Initiate open communications with your child. Encourage them to speak with you, to confide in you. No matter what. Accept how your child feels. Keep stability in your home and in your life. Children need structure. Limit the amount of changes you make in your children’s lives as you go through a divorce. Make changes gradually and it’s important to continue familiar routines. Always be available for your child and consider counseling for them if you feel it would be helpful. I often advise couples not only to consider counseling for themselves but for their children too. Don’t rush to introduce your
children to people you are dating. Keep that to yourself.

As parents we can’t always protect our children from divorce, but we cancomfort them, provide them with support and the tools necessary to understand, and to hopefully overcome the pain of divorce. Remember, divorce is a family affair. It’s not only about you! Don’t let your children get lost in the process!