Although the effects of divorce can be far reaching and mentally draining for the whole family, the end of a marriage can be especially emotionally charged for the children. A number of factors can impact and shape the divorce experience for children, however.
Research shows that a majority of kids from divorced families actually adjust very well, and over a fairly short period of time. In fact, experts from Psychology Today report that studies reveal how 80 percent of children recover so well, most of them experience no lasting negative effects. These findings apply to all areas of life—social adjustments, educational performance, and overall health.
Helping Your Child Thrive
If you, like many parents, wish for your child to be among the 80 percent of kids who successfully bounce back from the divorce experience, there are multiple ways you can help promote the healing process. The following three strategies can arm you with the power you need to provide your children with the support they will require to survive, and also thrive, after your family has split:
- Lead by example. Self-care is key to supporting your children throughout divorce. Studies show that children need to see their parent emotionally stable and functional on every level, including in work, social, and home life. Children need to feel safe and secure, and you are their first source of comfort at home. While you are human and cannot realistically have it all together, all the time—especially in the midst of divorce—the greater the emphasis you place on taking care of your emotional wellbeing, the better you will be able to cope—and help your children cope—with the end of the marriage.
- Communicate the game plan. Research also tells us that children need adequate assurance that they will remain safe and secure when going through the divorce transition. Children thrive on stability and routine. Simply hearing their parent explain how they will be provided for, where they will live, and what will or will not change because of the separation can ease their anxieties significantly. Do your best to communicate the changes they will experience because of the divorce. If money will be tight for a while, do not be afraid to discuss this. Instead, verbally acknowledge that you are aware the situation is hard and probably scary, and that you plan to do your best to care for them—no matter how difficult the situation may be.
- Enlist help. Delegating has many advantages when it comes to building and maintaining an emotional support system for your children. Not only can calling on dependable friends, family members, and mental health professionals ease your burden as the parent going through divorce, it can also ease your children’s burdens. Supplementing the care you give offers additional help with the day-to-day basics and also allows you to expand your children’s existing support system, giving them another “constant” in their life they can learn to rely on.
NOTE FROM FIELDS AND DENNIS — FOR SOME RECOMMENDATIONS OF BOOKS AND VIDEOS ABOUT THE PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF DIVORCE AND ABOUT PARENTING PLANS, VISIT HERE.