HelpingChildren Cope through Confrontational Divorce
HelpingChildren Cope through Confrontational Divorce
Itis evident that divorce is stressful, confusing, and sad, especiallyto the affected children. It has tremendous consequences to both thepartipacants, as well as their children. Commonly, children aredevastated when they learn that they will no longer live with boththeir parents. On the contrary, they will have to share the time theyspend with their parents. Unfortunately, the family unitautomatically change after a divorce. The impact of the divorcedepends in several factors such the parent relation during divorceperiod, the extent in which they place their children, and thevisitation or the custody arrangements. If the parents are calm withone another, then, they decrease the trauma for the children. On theother hand, if the parents are adversarial and provocative, then,they increase the trauma for the children. In the case of a divorce,it is normal for the affected children to experience a series ofemotions from sadness, anger, hurt, and loss, to guilt, confusion,withdrawal, and abandonment. Each year, thousands of children undergodivorce trauma. How they respond to trauma depends on thepersonality, age, and the circumstance of divorce process. The mostimportant things parents can do to help children cope thoughconfrontational divorce is provide love and reassurance, encouragecommunication, validate feelings, co-parent consistently, and avoidblame game.
Firstly,parents should provide love and reassurance. Parents should reassuretheir children that they still love despite the divorce. Besides,they should confirm to them that divorce is not their fault and theyhave nothing to do with it. According to Patricia Brady, a divorcemediator and psychologist, parent’s love is different from any kindof love from another spouse (Bryner,2001).Therefore, it is important for parents to make their childrenunderstand that although they have divorced their spouses, they havenot “divorced” the children. According to studies, children whoreceive reassurance and love after divorce have a remarkable healing.Similarly, parents should reassure their children that they willalways be there, and all will be okay. Although the physicalcircumstances of the family are likely to change, parents shouldassure them loving and healthy relationship with both of them.
Secondly,parents should encourage communication. Communication is to not onlyfor successful divorce proceeding, but also open to the children.They should be given an opportunity to talk out their feelings, aswell ask questions. Giving children an opportunity to talk out theirthoughts about divorce is a fundamental step towards healing.Unfortunately, communication in divorce is easier said than done.This is because every member of the family is going through emotionalturmoil at the same time (Arkowitzand Lilienfeld, 2013).Parents should come up with creative ways to reinforce understandingand togetherness of the family. For instance, children can “hangout” with either parent separately, spend time with their peers, oreven jot things down.
Thirdly,parents should validate feelings. Although children are likely todevelop negative feelings, they should understand it is normal, andthey will feel better as time goes by. Although not all children aretraumatised by their parent divorce, the impact of divorce should notbe underestimated. Divorced parents should nor bounce back and assumenothing has happened. According to the American Academy ofPaediatrics, about half of the children from divorced families showsigns of psychological trauma. Girls become depressed while boysbecome aggressive. Accordingly, both sexes may develop alcohol anddrugs problems as they try to deal with the situation. Faganand Rector (2000) urge parents to find acceptable and safe strategiesto deal with children aggressiveness, and involve them in theirfavourite activities. For a highly spirited child, outdoor andphysical activities are the best so that he or she can run, kick,stomp, shout, or yell out. Some of the potential outlets includequiet zone, a place away from distractions and noise, where the childmay feel calm. Psychologists say that a quiet place dissipatestantrums and relaxes the mind. Another outlet is the sports such assoccer, martial arts, or kicking. Similarly, art project is a goodoutlet where a child gets messy with fingerprints. This way, thechildren will be able to express their feeling. Doctors urge thatexpressing feeling is a probable aspect of a healing process.Children should be allowed to share freely what they feel on thedivorce issue. They may experience conflicting and confusing emotionssuch as embarrassment, sadness, depression, frustration, amongothers.
Fourthly,both parents should co-parent consistently. According to Kelly(2000),children needs consistency and stability therefore, it is vital thatthey have common expectations to help the transit between twohouseholds. In addition, Kelly(2000) urges that parents should agree upon the major issues whilethe parent on duty deals with day-to-day issues. For instance, bothparents should agree the school the children should attend, while theparent on duty should discipline the child whenever he or shemisbehaves. Additionally, both homes should be more or less the same.They should both have duplicate sets of primary items. For example,they should have child’s favourite sundries, pyjamas, blankets,school supplies among others. This will minimise the burden ofcarrying them back and forth from one home to another. Further,parents should be reliable. For instance, if a parent is picking achild at a school, then, he or she should be punctual. Psychologistbelieves that flakiness and chronic tardiness causes worry and stressmaking a child feel unwanted and rejected.
Finally,parents should avoid blame game. It is important for parent to behonest with their children, but also keep in mind the age of thechildren. Older children need detailed information and while youngerchildren need less information (Amato,2000).However, this may be challenging especially if the cause of divorceis hurtful such as infidelity. Parents should present a similarexplanation for the divorce, and avoid contradictions messages. It isimportant for both parents to plan together what to say to theparents. If possible, they should do it together. Correspondingly,parents should keep things as friendly as possible. When parents arehostile, children are likely to suffer. Therefore, parents should berespectful to one another especially in their children presence.
Ultimately,parents have a major role in helping their children cope thoughconfrontational divorce. They can minimize divorce trauma by workingin the best interest of their children. They should make the divorceprocess less painful by incorporating the above-mentioned strategies.In addition, they should support their children through the wholeprocess of divorce. They should also be patient with children and theway they feel. Although it takes time and effort, the divorce wouldeventually heal, and the child is likely to adapt, adjust, as well ascontinue to grow in skills and knowledge.
Amato,P. R. (2000). The consequences of divorce for adults and children.Journalof marriage and family,62(4),1269-1287.
Arkowitz,H., & Lilienfeld, S. O. (2013). Is Divorce Bad for Children?.ScientificAmerican Mind,24(1),68-69.
Bryner,C. L. (2001). Children of divorce. TheJournal of the American Board of Family Practice,14(3),201-210.
Fagan,P. F., & Rector, R. (2000). The effects of divorce on America.Worldand I,15(10),56- 61.
Kelly,J. B. (2000). Children`s adjustment in conflicted marriage anddivorce: A decade review of research. Journalof the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry,39(8),963-973.