Unhappily married parents often struggle with the choice between staying together for the benefit of their children and getting a divorce. Many children do experience short-term distress during their parents’ divorce, and parents often feel guilty for the hurt the divorce can cause their child. However, despite popular belief, many children do not experience lifelong emotional health problems after a divorce, and many ultimately experience some benefits of divorce. If you have children and are thinking about divorce, consider contacting an experienced divorce lawyer from the Colorado Divorce Law Group to learn more about your legal options by calling (720) 593-6442 to schedule a consultation.
During the initial adjustment time between first talking to the children about the divorce and settling into the new parenting and custody arrangements, it can be difficult to see the benefits of divorce. However, many psychologists note that divorce can have several unexpected positive benefits for children, including they following:
Helping your children develop these skills means being there for them when they struggle with difficult emotions. Divorce can be a stressful time for everyone in the family, but focusing on the future and making the best decisions for the children can help.
Staying together “for the kids” does not mean that a child will grow up in a healthy, peaceful home. If one parent is physically, emotionally, or financially abusive, then there is a risk that a child may also be harmed. Even if the abusive parent does not abuse the child, simply witnessing one parent abusing the other can cause children significant emotional damage, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Children learn social and emotional skills through observation. Therefore, their parents’ relationship is the one that they will model most often later in life. Teaching your child through example that relationships can be contentious or that abuse is acceptable can affect the child’s ability to form healthy relationships later. If a home is filled with aggression and violence, children in the home may not be able to identify what a healthy relationship looks like and may either mimic the abusive parent’s behavior or become vulnerable to abuse in their own relationships.
Learning healthy conflict resolution skills is a vital part of growing up. Observing calm and effective compromise and dispute resolution between divorced parents teaches children how to effectively negotiate emotional conflicts in their own lives. When a child sees that it is possible to have a healthy interaction even when they disagree with someone, they become better at regulating their own emotional responses.
Creating a friendly, or at least cordial and respectful, co-parenting relationship can be a struggle for some divorced parents, especially if the divorce was contentious. Forming a harmonious co-parenting relationship can be so difficult for some parents that the temptation to speak ill of the other parent is strong. Bear in mind, however, that the negative things you say about your former spouse are internalized by your children, which could negate any positive mental health effects that the divorce can have on them.
Single parenting means that you get to spend more one-on-one time with your children, allowing you both to get to know one another on a different level. One parent may have been more involved in the day-to-day child rearing than the other before the divorce. After the divorce, the other parent may find more opportunities to help with homework or attend school events, thus strengthening his or her bond with the child. If you would like to spend more time with your child, a divorce lawyer from Colorado Divorce Law Group may be able to help you negotiate different custody arrangements.
In addition, parents who have carried the majority of the child-rearing duties may find that the break they get while the other parent has the children leaves them feeling refreshed and recharged. Consequently, they can be more patient and engaged with their children during their parenting time. The supportive relationships that you develop with your children and the closer one-on-one time that you spend with them can help to ease the transition after the divorce.
Children of happier, more relaxed parents tend to be happier and less stressed, too. If a strained marriage or constant fighting stresses you out as a spouse, consider the strain that is probably spilling over to your children. Parents who develop depression or anxiety due to the strain of their marriage are also unable to be as focused and present with their children.
Taking care of your own mental health and well-being is important, including seeking treatment for depression or anxiety. Some parents may feel that they are being selfish for getting a divorce to preserve their mental health. In truth, they may be modeling how to prioritize mental well-being to positively influence their children.
Resilience is a learned behavior that strengthens with practice. Divorce is a major life stressor, and transitioning in a healthy manner means learning or honing resilience. Strong parental relationships are the biggest indicator of strong resilience in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Your mindset and behavior during and after the divorce present your children with a model for handling stressful and emotionally charged life changes. As you adjust to your new normal, so are your children. How you learn to let go of the past and focus on your future can help them also learn how to thrive in the wake of hardship.
Children have a much different perspective than adults during a divorce, and many of them struggle emotionally with the split. Although you may be facing emotional struggles and mental health challenges of your own, reframing your divorce as an opportunity to help your children learn valuable emotional coping skills may help you with your own struggles. If you are contemplating divorce, or if your spouse has filed for a divorce, consider contacting an experienced family law attorney from the Colorado Divorce Law Group by calling (720) 593-6442 today to learn about the potential benefits of divorce.