Children and Divorce, Surviving the Break Up! The Hardest Decesion | According to some ideas that adults people think that teenages do not care what is happining around them. It is further beyond from the realty. Meanwhile, it makes comfortable some parents to think that if mother and father divorce, the child will not feel pain in anyway. It is a way of consciously or unconsciously protecting themselves from knowing about the child’s pain.
Children and Divorce, Surviving the Break Up!
When researching for books on the family. We spoke to hundreds of men, women, and children. Who had been through the trauma of a family breaking up. What emerged was that – with hindsight. Some parents could see that the child had been the first to pick up that something was wrong.
Children are very tuned into the adults’ inner turmoil. Of course, they would not be aware of what the problem was. Only that there was some tension in the air. I heard from a boy about the way he discovered his dad was leaving. Listen him!
One evening our four-years-old had a nightmare. In order to pacify him I asked what he had been dreaming and through sobs. He said ‘Daddy is going away and not taking us’. I turned to look at my husband for him to speak to Adam. But he was overcome with emotion. He told me he had been planning to tell me. He was as shocked as I was when Adam did it for him.
Signal of their distress!
The most usual way children signal their distress is with a physical symptom. And parents on the brink of separating reported an increase in sleep disturbance. And tummy aches, bed wetting, tearfulness, withdrawal. Or difficult behaviour problems which all too easily reflected the strain and stress within the family. These symptoms often continued for some time. Especially if there were difficulties over contact with the non-custodial parent.
For an older child there is often the additional burden of split loyalty between parents. Someone who may be a very disliked ex-partner is still ‘my mum’ or ‘my dad’ to the child.
Although parents may be devastated or relieved by divorce. It can be a very frightening time for the children as they try to make sense of what is happening in the adult world. Children do notice. And the way they are helped to understand what is happening will help them in turn to make relationships in adult life. And in turn to become parents themselves.
Children and Divorce, What Shall We Tell The Children?
This is frequently a burning question when a couple decide to separate. There are times when the coming split may have been obvious to friends and family. And even to the couple’s children. But what to tell them can be the hardest task of all. How to help their children through the transition is something that preoccupies parents as more and more. Men and women do accept that divorce does affect the children adversely. It has been said that
children can be helped, but never spared.
So how to make the transition as smooth as possible? First, by accepting that there is no way it can be pain free, either for the parents or the children. By taking this on board there are less likely to be mixed messages. Or even false reassurances. Parents who try too hard and tell their children that ‘we are all friends.
And mummy and daddy still love each other. And we both love you’ will leave bewildered children puzzled. About why there needs to be a divorce at all. This is as muddling as it is traumatic for a child to hear about the faults and sins of the parents.
Children and Divorce, Changing of children’s life!
The first thing to keep in mind is the age of the child. And to find a language and words which are appropriate and will be understood. For a young child simplicity is best: they can be updated later as events change. Older children, need to know quite quickly how the break up will affect them in a practical way. Will it mean a change of school? Will they be moving house? And will they see the other parent, when and how?
When I carried out my research into the effects of divorce upon children. I spoke with fathers, mothers, and children. And I believe that if the parents could speak with one voice what they would most likely say is. ‘I’d listen to the children and try to answer their questions immediately and directly.
I would try not to colour my answers with my own pain. And fear and sense of betrayal. But they would have to add. ‘But I’m human and I was in pain and at times I floundered and panicked. Also, at times, I tried to punish my ex-partner through the children, and that wasn’t fair.’
So often there is a gap between what we would like to be able to do and what we actually do. However, if one parent believes that the children must be helped and guided through this time. It may be a little easier to get together with the other parent. Or grandparent or close friend, and consider ‘what shall we tell the children?’