No matter how civilized the separation, divorce affects children. At minimum, it usually means a change of schedule and routine, different living arrangements, separate vacations, family outings and gatherings, and an altered pattern of time spent with each parent. Some children feel sad and confused, others wonder if they are to blame for their parents' problems, and some are angry or frustrated. It is not uncommon for children to experience any or all of these feelings, to different degrees, at various times.
Open and honest communication with children about what is happening in the family at a level that each child is able to understand can help clear up some of their confusion and provide validation for their feelings. Maintaining appropriate boundaries is also very important so that children do not take on the burden of their parents' emotions during this difficult time.
Both parents and children can benefit from a space to process their feelings. When parents have someone to talk to, they are better in control of their emotions and are able to be more available to their children. When children have a safe and open space to share their thoughts and feelings, they are better equipped to weather the storm.
There is much to think about when it comes to understanding the impact of divorce on children. Next time, the issue of what happens when tensions run deep between parents and one or the other or both are having a hard time managing their emotions will be addressed. Continue to part 2
keywords: children and divorce; parenting; children's feelings; child well-being; psychological growth