Helping a child cope with the many changes divorce brings

Divorce and change go hand-in-hand. For parents who are unhappy in a marriage, many of the changes that accompany divorce are welcomed. For a child, however, the many changes that accompany divorce can be both difficult to understand and adjust to.

All children want to feel safe, secure and loved. When parents are dealing with their own emotional turmoil and stress associated with a failing marriage, a child is likely to also suffer emotionally and mentally. It makes sense, therefore, that upon learning of an impending divorce, some children are relieved. This is often especially true in cases where a child views one parent more negatively. However, even in cases where a child doesn't mind that his or her parents are divorcing, a divorce is likely to be accompanied by difficult adjustments.

Many children of divorce admit to feeling confused and sad about a divorce. For some, these feelings lead them to act out in school and have negative academic and social implications. It's also common for a child who is coping with his or her parents’ divorce to feel angry and to lash out and blame one or both parents. While common, parents would be wise to monitor these types of behaviors and provide a child with counseling if necessary.

For divorcing parents, communication barriers often exist that make it difficult to agree on much of anything. However, for the sake of shared children, it's imperative that divorcing parents find a way to set aside their differences and agree upon certain codes of conduct with regard to how they act, interact and communicate. It's hurtful and damaging for a child to hear one parent make disparaging comments about the other parents and this type of behavior may result in a child resenting one or both parents.

Divorce is a difficult and highly emotional process. For parents who are going through the divorce process, it's critical to always keep the best interests of a shared child top of mind. Regardless of how angry, hurt or sad a dad or mom feels; his or her first priority must be ensuring a child feels safe, secure and loved at all times.

Source: The Huffington Post, "7 Ways Divorce Affects Kids, According To The Kids Themselves," Brittany Wong, Aug. 28, 2014

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