When couples don’t get along well, the first thing that comes to their mind is to get a divorce. Then impulsively they will act on it, sometimes not considering the consequences or the effects it would have on their kids. According to Amy Morin, LCSW, “Divorce creates emotional turmoil for the entire family, but for kids, the situation can be quite scary, confusing, and frustrating.”
Parents rarely think about their kids when considering divorce. Some parents think, “they’re just kids.” They never realize that kids also have feelings and understand perfectly well what’s happening. Kids just sometimes remain quiet in the middle of all the chaos, but they are the ones most affected by all this drama.
Insecurity Peeps In
No child would want his parents to end up in divorce. No matter how stressful and chaotic the situation is every day in the house, he hopes that things will get resolved and things will get better. But the moment the issue of divorce comes into the picture, the child starts to question himself. “Is it because of me?”
Keep Communication Open
Breaking the bad news to your kid is the hardest part, but it should come from both of you. “If possible, both spouses should be together when telling the children of the impending separation or divorce,” suggests child psychologist Ruth A. Peters, Ph.D. Be honest and agree first on what and how to tell your kid to avoid any argument when in front of your child. Let him know that it’s a mutual decision and try to assure him that things will be better and that your love for him will never change – you will still be both there for him. Be prepared to answer his questions openly.
Be There As He Grieves
To a kid, divorce equates loss – not just loss of parents, but the loss of what he calls family. Let him grieve and be physically present for him. Listen to his sobs and frustrations. Help him process his silent emotions by encouraging him to talk. Let him know that he can be honest with you, that you will not get hurt or be angry at whatever he is going to say. Be patient with your kid and make him understand that the divorce is not their fault.
Your Love Will Help Him Heal
The wound will heal in time, and you should be there to help your child recover. It is of importance that you keep on reminding and showing him how much you love him. Keep on telling him that the process will be painful, but it’s just temporary. Things will eventually work out fine. Always hug him and pat him on the back to assure him that you will still be there for him. Hugs are the best way of making him feel secure and loved.
Divorce is a painful and tedious process. No matter how hurt you are, never vent your feelings on your kid. Seek therapy to help you and your spouse work things out, such as how you could remain friends for your kid’s sake. Also, consider the idea of sending your kid to a therapist to help him cope with the divorce. Sometimes, children are more open to talking to someone they can trust but who is outside the family circle. “By becoming aware of my feelings and expectations for my child, I was able to understand and question my belief system about what it means to be a good parent and what I really wanted for my child,” says Dan Peters Ph.D.
Never fail to think of your kids when considering divorce, because your decision will have a long-lasting effect on their future. Separation is not just about you and your spouse. It’s also about your kid and how he will turn out to be.