Your Child’s Divorce

Divorce is a difficult topic to discuss, but in a society where 40%-50% of married couples in the United States, according to the American Psychological Association, end up in divorce, it is inevitable not to discuss it.

Children of divorced families have their own experience compared to the those getting divorced.  Often times because the adults are so focused on dissolving the marriage, separating property, finances and determining custody arrangements if children are involved, the emotional impact that it has on children can be overlooked.  Did you know that during a divorce, children can experience a range of emotions/behaviors from anger and aggression to sadness and withdrawal, along with a number of other emotional and behavioral responses.

During the emotional turmoil of a divorce, some children go into protective mode and try to protect their parents which can mimic them being stable or well-adjusted to the chaos that is happening around them, when in reality the child may be suffering internally and putting on a brave face for their parents.  Below are a few warning signs to be on the lookout for when your family is going through a divorce and tips to help your child through this difficult time.

Warning Signs

  • Isolation
  • Increase in mood swings
  • Decrease/Increase in eating
  • Increase/Decrease in sleeping

Tips for helping your child

  • Allowing children to express their thoughts/feelings
  • Avoid having detailed conversations about the divorce in front the them
  • Avoid talking negatively about the other parent
  • Remember that even though the marriage is dissolving, your child’s relationship with their parent will continue

When children are finally brought to me, I’ve noticed that they finally feel that someone is listening to them, and how the divorce is impacting them. They often feel more at ease with expressing these feelings to their parents.  Below is a list of responses throughout my years of experience in working with children and how they felt about their families’ divorce.

“I felt like I couldn’t talk about my dad in front of my mom” …. Anonymous

“I felt like my family life before the divorce was a lie” …. Anonymous

“I felt like I had to choose a side” …. Anonymous

If you’re a parent going through a divorce and you recognize any of the warnings signs, and/or you’re just concerned and want to be proactive in your child’s emotional wellbeing, feel free to contact me for a phone consultation to discuss how you can help your child remain emotionally healthy throughout the process.

Gretchen Campbell  MA, LPC Licensed Professional Counselor