How to Help Your Child Through Divorce
If you are a parent who is considering a divorce, you are probably concerned about how the divorce will affect your children. Children have many different responses to their parents splitting up, and it can be difficult to know for sure how yours will react. Some children are vocal about their feelings and fears while others keep their emotions inside. Some will ask many questions and some will refuse to talk at all about the separation. Fortunately, studies show that children are more resilient than many parents realize and with the right guidance, they can lead happy, healthy lives after their parents’ divorce.
Psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington of the University of Virginia conducted a study that showed that many children experience negative effects of divorce in the short term but are adjusted to their new life by the second year. Research also suggests that children of divorce do not show significant differences in behavior, academic achievement, or self-esteem than children whose parents did not divorce.
Keep Adult Conversations Between the Adults
One factor that consistently makes a difference in children’s ability to bounce back from this major life change is parental conflict. Those children who were overly exposed to heated arguing or even physical altercations showed developmental/emotional problems that others did not. Of course, if the environment is extremely volatile before the divorce, some children are relieved to hear their parents are going their separate ways.
If you are choosing to divorce, know that the way you and your spouse handle disagreements during the process can be very influential on your child’s happiness. You have an opportunity to model patience and maturity during the divorce process. Researcher Dr. Gordon Harold explains, "Arguments that are dealt with effectively that are conducted calmly that show clear messages of negotiation and resolution have positive implications for children."
Of course, it is impossible to shield your children from all of the negative emotions and conflict which goes along with divorce, but there are steps you can take to help. Avoid yelling or fighting in front of the kids, step out of the room or step outside if you are having an argument with your spouse, and never ask—overtly or implicitly—your child to be a mediator between you and your spouse.
Seek Legal Guidance
If you are thinking about a divorce and you have questions about how the process could affect your children, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. We will help you find the answers you need as you pursue the happier future you deserve. Call 630-232-9700 for a confidential consultation today.