Getting a divorce?
Wondering if your kids will be ok?
No matter how much you try to keep your relationship problems away from the kids, or how amicable you are to one another, when parents separate, kids’ lives are turned upside down.
Divorce isn’t a one-time thing, and it doesn’t end when the legal papers are signed.
It changes EVERYTHING for children now and for their future.
Scared and Worried – They have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen.
“Where will I live?”
“Will I have to change schools?”
“Who will take me to soccer practice?”
“What will happen to my toys?”
Angry, Hurt and Mad — While kids tend to be angry with both parents, they usually place the blame on one parent at a time. It feels too scary, being mad at both parents (whom they love, and depend on to keep them safe) at the same time.
“What did you do to make dad leave?”
“Why weren’t you nicer to mom? You shouldn’t have yelled at her so much.”
“Do you know what you’re doing to me?”
“This isn’t fair.”
Guilty and Bad — Most kids feel like the divorce is their fault and they caused their parents’ problems.
“I should have just done my chores, and my homework, when mom and dad asked.”
“I shouldn’t have talked back to them so much.”
“I heard mom and dad arguing about how expensive my dance classes are.”
“Why did I always have to argue so much with my little brother…?”
Empty and Lonely — Kids often get lost in the divorce process. Parents are dealing with their own “stuff” during a divorce. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for parents to also hold the emotions of their children.
“They don’t have time for me anymore.”
“Mommy was sad the other day. I wanted her to play dolls, but she was crying in her room.”
“I don’t bother trying to talk to dad anymore…he’s mad all the time.”
Confused, Rejected and Abandoned — They don’t understand how their parents can stop loving each other and separate. They’re worried about themselves.
“If dad doesn’t love mom anymore, will he stop loving me, too?”
“Will mom divorce me, too?”
“Will I have to choose sides?”
Responsible and Powerless — Some kids feel responsible for the emotional well-being of their parents. They try to help by taking on the role of other parent, but feel they have no control over anything.
“Dad will be lonely, so I have to go visit even though I’ll miss my recital.”
“Mom gets upset if clothes are left all over the floor, so I better try to do the laundry.”
“No one asked me how I’d feel about all this. I don’t want a divorce.”
Kids have two homes. Schedules change. Routines are different.
Rules, responsibilities, and behavioral expectations may differ depending on which parent they’re with.
Dinner and bedtime rituals may happen differently at each house.
Holidays, vacations, and family traditions are no longer the same.
New people, like a new significant other, may eventually enter the picture.
Here’s what some kids had to say about how their lives totally changed, because of their parents’ divorce…
“I have a hard time remembering where I’m going and when. Who is going to pick me up after school today?”
“I don’t like going to dad’s house during the week. I have to lug all my personal stuff to school, so it’s at his house for the night, then take it all back the next day. Sometimes the weather changes, and I don’t have an outfit or something I need. It’s a drag.”
“I don’t want to go…Are you coming back? Can Bear [child’s favorite stuffed animal] stay with me?”
“Mommy and daddy are still mad at each other. Sometimes, when I hear them talking, I just do a silly dance.”
“I love my dad, but he always seems so sad when mom picks me up. He tells me how much he’s going to miss me, and then I feel guilty, like I shouldn’t leave.”
“Mom tells me to text dad to let him know my school fees are due. She asks me to pass along other messages sometimes, but I don’t always do it. I don’t like being in the middle.”
“Dad sometimes says not so nice things about mom. But, I’m part of mom. So does he think that about me too?”
“It’s embarrassing, sometimes. I try not to talk about it with my friends, and hope they don’t catch on.”
“Dad and Barb are getting married. Does that mean I have two moms?”
The child in the video below tells us what divorce is really like from a kid’s perspective. It’s brutally honest.
Divorce also affects a kid’s development.
Kids need a sense of safety and security, responsive, warm, and patient caregivers as they grow and develop.
They also need boundaries, structure, consistency and predictability in their daily lives.
Kids who have positive experiences develop a solid, clear sense of self-identity and self-esteem.
They develop the capacity to manage their emotions, have good relationships, exhibit appropriate behaviors, and perform well in school and other external settings.
When parents are fighting, separated, or divorced, these positive experiences that kids need for healthy growth and development may be minimal or absent, at least for awhile.
When kids are stressed because their parents are unhappy, arguing a lot, separated, or getting a divorce, they show us how they feel through their behaviors.
Does your child or teenager have any of these behaviors problems?
- More frequent outbursts of anger
- Shorter temper
- Aggressive behavior like hitting, kicking, biting, and throwing or breaking things
- Refusal to follow rules, lack of cooperation, back talk
- Acting out in school (not paying attention, not turning in homework, getting into fights)
- Easily brought to tears by seemingly mundane mishaps or mistakes
- Withdrawing from social activities, family and friends
- Overly anxious and worried about seemingly trivial matters (may notice hair pulling, nail biting or stressing out over making mistakes, losing something, things being out of order)
- Negative attitude
- Eating and self care pattern changes
- Regression in previously learned skills (potty training, sleeping through the night, language skills)
- Nightmares, fears, and phobias
- Excessive clinginess
These are all possible signs that the divorce is troubling for them and they’re having a hard time dealing with it.
Kids feel the tension of marital problems long before the divorce.
They notice the subtle changes in their parents’ relationship – how they speak to each other, the silences at the dinner table, the late nights at work.
But nobody talks about it.
The kids are left to make up their own stories about what’s happening. Parents know what’s going on and, as tough as it is to end a relationship, they’ve had some time to come to terms with the situation.
Their kids have not come to terms with the situation.
The kids have been through enough.
They need their own space to express their sad, mad, and frightening feelings, without worrying about their parents.
They need to grieve the loss of their life as they have known it, and have some support and understanding as they move forward to navigate life after divorce.
As much as parents may want to be that listening ear for their kid, their kid thinks they need to protect their parents from these feelings, so they try to hold the feelings in.
But their behaviors reveal their hurt and fear.
You have enough to deal with.
Divorce is so difficult for parents.
You didn’t go into your relationship ever thinking it would end. The sad truth is that, sometimes, it does.
When it does, you’re not only dealing with the feelings about the marriage and your ex-spouse, but divorce brings up all sorts of feelings from the past – insecurities, rejection, loss, and many others.
You have to work through all of this, and you’re expected to help your child through this huge change as well.
You don’t have to do it alone.
You can make the right decision. Provide your kid the help they will need.
You can give them a place to work through all the feelings divorce brings.
Learn how to use your relationship, and connect with your kid in deeper, empathic ways. Help them navigate their emotions and manage their behaviors.
Get help finding ways to work with with your ex-spouse to be sure the kids aren’t caught in the middle and your problems don’t become theirs.
Waiting isn’t going to make this go away. Your kids need help.
You can get it NOW and start the healing process. Contact us TODAY at 630-423-6039 for a FREE no-obligation phone consultation and get your kids the extra support they deserve to get through your divorce.