Regrettably, divorce is an event that can change a child s life dramatically; it often forces a harsh new reality, in which their family is disrupted and divided. Many issues in a divorce can be misinterpreted by children, causing a very negative impact on the child s life due to the child s lack of experience and understanding. It is axiomatic that the younger the child, the larger the ego. Sadly, little ones think the entire world revolves around them and if something is wrong, it is somehow their fault. This is way too much sorrow for little shoulders to bear.
Clearly, the negative effects of a divorce can be very detrimental to a child s future. Intelligent, thoughtful and caring parents take every possible step to minimize and avoid these unintended consequences of their divorce. Here are 3 proven strategies.
1. Avoid Conflict!
Negative emotional and development effects result when children witness their parents become hostile towards one another. One of the main goals to a successful divorce is aimed at making the divorce process as easy and gentle as possible, in order to reduce the harsh side effects placed upon children. There may be conflict associated with your dissolution. It happens, nobody is perfect. However, you must rise above your emotions and not engage in argument in front of your children.
For what it is worth, you must realize that you are not alone and you are not ipso facto bad parents for choosing to divorce. In the article, Divorce: A Parents Gide for Supporting Children, John E. Desrochers discusses that according to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost half of all first marriages end in divorce, and about two thirds of these situations involve children. All agree that the children should be the main concern throughout the divorce process.
You must take steps to educate yourselves on how to minimize the negative impact on your children. Desrochers also explains that understanding the risk factors and what to expect at every stage of a child s development will help parents promote their children s successful adjustment and growth as the family goes through the divorce process. Desrochers opines at length about the fact that one of the major impacts on children of divorce is witnessing conflict between their parents. Viewing this conflict can cause confusion for the children because they love both their parents and are torn in their loyalties to each of them. At best, the children should be well shielded from parental conflict in order to maintain a loving and nurturing atmosphere.
2. Be Parents First!
Through the divorce process, it is essential that the parents act as mothers and fathers first and divorced spouses second. Despite their own struggles in the divorce process, parents still have an obligation to provide their children with a loving, nurturing, and stable environment (S. Leigh and J. Clark). One of the greatest methods in maintaining a nurturing and stable environment is mediation. Mediation is easier on the children because it focuses on what s best for the children and teaches the parents how to separate their own interest from their children s interest; unlike divorce litigation, where it is the lawyer s job to put up a good fight for the spouses, in order to have one spouse gain more interest. Mediation promotes a netural and blame free atmosphere, reducing conflict and focusing on how to manage the future.
3. Look Forward!
Focusing on the future is a key element to helping children cope with a divorce, it helps them to ease into the changes ahead. In the article, Helping Children Cope with Divorce and Recovering Your Life, Mark Dombeck and Kathryn Patricelli explain that children tend to mirror actions that are displayed through their parents. As a result, parents going through divorce must try not to dwell in the past; they must let go, forgive and embrace the changes. In doing so they promote a positive atmosphere, which will help children cope with divorce more successfully.
In conclusion, it is clear that the main concern for parents going through a divorce should be focused on the children. From how the parents deal with the divorce themselves to the way they go about the legal division of their estate, it can all affect the children. There is no room for the parents to act with revenge or be selfish when it comes to a divorce that involves children. As a result, coping with the divorce in a proper and calm manner can help maintain a loving, nurturing, and stable environment. These are the key elements in successfully helping children cope with a divorce and providing them the best foundation for success in their future endeavors.
Elissa Nguyen is a keen observer of the human condition, Sociology Researcher and Consultant to the Liaise Divorce Solutions Marital Reorganization Research and Development Project. David D. Stein has been an attorney for 20 years and the founder of Liaise® Divorce Solutions. He is a trained mediator, dispute resolution specialist and lecturer on non-violent conflict management techniques and tools.