Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Children and Divorce: What You Should Know (Cont.)

The last entry looked generally at the potential effects of divorce on children and how they can be managed when the parents' separation is fairly civil and their emotions are in check. What happens, though, when parental emotions run high?

When tension, hostility, anger, frustration, and sadness are in the forefront of a divorce, children are likely to have a harder time dealing with the separation and change. These kinds of feelings are very powerful and, when left unchecked, have the potential to be hurtful to the children. 

Angry, hurt feelings towards a spouse may unintentionally be displaced onto children. Parents trying to manage overwhelming emotions do not always have a lot left to give their children either. When these things happen, the children are caught in the middle and their needs tend to be overlooked. 

Many children in this position need something to help them deal with the separation and loss elicited from the divorce and the hostility between their parents; they need the chance to talk with someone outside the family, the opportunity to spend more time with peers or participate in an organized social activity, or the respect to be given some additional privacy and quiet time alone. 

When parents are too caught up in their own emotions and preoccupied with the ex-spouse, the children's needs can be missed. 

Parents' feelings are valid and need to be expressed in healthy ways so they can be better managed. This way, parents can be sure that their feelings are not overshadowing the needs of their children.
keywords: children and divorce; parenting; children's feelings; child well-being; psychological growth