Children and Divorce: During the Divorce

In the midst of a divorce, parents try very hard to avoid hurting their children more than they will be by the trauma of the divorce alone. However, children often don’t have the ability to voice which actions hurt them most. In discussing the experiences of adult children of divorce, these adults are able to express concepts that children often cannot. These posts address these behavioral actions parents might take to lessen the child’s painful experience of the divorce, and subsequently avoid the overall trauma the child undergoes.

-To Divorce or Not To Divorce: Couples often choose to “stay together for the kids.”  So often, however, adult children of divorce wish their parents would have just divorced sooner.  In situations where there is a protracted period of time during which the parents are arguing while they are making the decision to divorce, that behavior can just make it worse for the children.

-It’s Not Your Fault: Children are never the cause of divorce, but it can still be very challenging as a child to see yourself as so powerless. It is incredibly hard to be placed in the role of the victim and to watch your family fall apart around you. In some ways, feeling like you are the cause would give you power to do something about it.  That can be one of the reasons why children sometimes feel responsible for their parents’ divorce. Your children are already facing the stigma of coming from “a broken home,” they must be reassured that the divorce is not their fault, but that their voices won’t be silenced by the role of victimhood.

-Be Aware of Surroundings: Children’s identity can often be caught up in the behavior of their parents and family members. Especially in situations of divorce, when the child might perceive the parents’ stress as seeming so much larger than the child’s own needs, the child’s dependence on the family might seem a particularly hard pill to swallow when the parents engage in behavior that is embarrassing to the child. When children see their parents treating each other in cruel or horrifying ways, the child might feel that this behavior is a large part of who they are too.

-Self Control and Awareness: Parents can work to be more aware of how they are affecting their children by letting their anger get to a pitch that is destructive and ultimately unhelpful.  This kind of anger can be incredibly destructive, not just to your relationship with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, but to your children when they overhear it.  Children are left scared, angry, and confused by this behavior.

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