Children and Divorce

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

They say ג€˜one in three’ marriages end in divorce ג€“ think how many children must have had exposure to this experience? With this statistic as a track record for the average 21st century family, children these days need additional resilience to grow up in the modern extended family – a far cry from the 1950’s conventional unit of 2.4 children.

If you should be so unfortunate as to have the experience of divorce within your life, it’s important to be compassionate and generous in considering the children, as they are only just learning about the complex world of relationships. Make divorce the opportunity to give them insight and understanding into how ג€˜friend and families’ work.

Many American states follow a no-blame culture for divorce, and a no-blame attitude to the breakdown of a relationship is the most positive position to take. You may not feel this at the time but it is the best approach to take for the long-term health of the children involved. This may be a hard strategy to adopt, and although you may be feeling pain, hatred, anger, disgust and disappointment, for the children, the blame is best shared between the adults. We are all human, with weaknesses and strengths, and prone to making errors of judgement that can not be undone.

To minimize anxiety to the children, you could consider the following:
ג€¢ As much as is possible, spare the children the harsh words exchanged between parents or other members of the family, although they may have been unwittingly aware of a changed atmosphere for some time.
ג€¢ When a decision to part has been made, all adults need to agree on strategies for parenting from that point on, and agree a consistent approach for responsibilities. This is important as children can become expert at exploiting divisions between adults.
ג€¢ As soon as possible, both parents should set aside their anger and tell the children what is about to happen. It should be gently explained that the parents have agreed to spend the rest of their lives apart but they still individually love the children, and nothing that happens will change that.
ג€¢ Children may become distressed and lacking the verbal skills to express how they feel, may demonstrate difficult behavior. During this challenging time, it may help if children are encouraged to express their feelings in non-verbal ways through art, music, sport and other activities.
ג€¢ All family members need to make sure that the children are not used as scapegoats for other relationship problems.
ג€¢ And finally, if you as a parent are stressed, it will affect your children. Make sure you get support from your friends and family, and take time out to give yourself a break to relax.

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