Effect Of Divorce On Children
Parents who separate will need to have a plan for deciding how they will share and divide their parenting (“stipulation”) regarding child custody and visitation. Any plan must be in writing and signed by both parents and a judge. Make sure that after the judge signs your plan, you file it with the court clerk.
What are our children going through?
Children react differently to the separation of their parents, and you know your children best. But, here is some information to help you understand what could be going on with your children. It is important that you remain open to talking to your children and that you give them a lot of understanding and nurturing during this time.
In general, children go through different stages in dealing with the grief of their parents’ separation:
- Shock and denial that their parents are separating
- Anger because their parents are separating
- Depression — seeing that their world is falling apart, and being overwhelmed with feelings of helplessness and sadness
- Bargaining — when children take on the responsibilities of making things the way they were, promising themselves or their parents anything to get their parents back together
- Acceptance — when they begin to talk more openly about the separation, and get their energy and interests back
How can we help our children cope with our separation?
- Explain to your children that you and the other parent will be living in separate homes. If it is appropriate in your situation, reassure your children they will still have contact with both parents even though you live in separate homes.
- Do not argue with the other parent in front of the children, no matter how hard it is to put off a discussion until later, when your children are not around.
- Do not put your children in the middle by using them as messengers or spies between the two parents.
- It may help to have your children talk to a counselor or to other children who have gone through their parents’ separation.
- Show your children that you respect their other parent, and support the time that they spend with each of you.
How do we parent together after separation?
- Give your children the stable and predictable routine they need.
- Figure out how you and the other parent can each make time to be with your children.
- Get the information you need to make good decisions about what your children need at each age.
- If possible, find a way to parent well together and separately.
- Take care of yourself. Find ways to feel good about yourself and to understand your confusing feelings.
- Set goals. Try to stay calm in difficult situations.