Divorce can be a challenging, deeply emotional experience not just for the divorcing partners, but for their families. This is particularly true for any children the couple may have had while they were married. Parents often struggle with finding ways to support and mentor their children throughout the divorce process. If you are navigating these difficult processes and concerned about how to help your children through a divorce, please consider setting up a meeting with the compassionate and dedicated family law attorneys at Colorado Divorce Law Group by calling (720) 593-6442 to discuss your family’s situation.
According to the American Psychological Association, divorce can affect anyone’s mental well-being. Because the stability of the family home is often understood to be important to children’s emotional development, in the past many couples stayed together for the sake of their children. In other cases, couples postponed divorce in the belief that the older their children were, the less affected they would be. However, a divorce can affect children at any age, from toddlers to teenagers.
Not everyone has the same emotional coping mechanisms and maturity levels, regardless of age. Whether children are still in infancy or on the cusp of their own adulthood, parents will want to ensure that each child feels loved, safe, and supported throughout the divorce process. Providing them with a safe home is an essential step to handling a child’s fears and easing the transition from one family structure to another.
Going through their parents’ divorce can be difficult for a child at any age. However, some researchers have found that the period between six and twelve years may be the most difficult. Youngsters in this age range still recall the times when their parents were married. Depending on individual personality and circumstances, children may wonder what part they played in the divorce, believing their acts led to the separation. In such cases, children may even feel regret or remorse, which can result in issues with anxiety and depression.
Children tend to feel confused and scared when their parents chose to divorce, per the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. There are a few ways to help them cope with these changes, such as:
The decision to divorce is a complex process that typically involves five distinct steps. While these stages can be challenging and emotionally taxing, they are often necessary to achieving a reasonable resolution.
A denial of the situation characterizes the initial stage. During this time, one or both partners refuse to acknowledge the existence of serious problems within the marriage. At this stage, couples may attempt to maintain the facade of a healthy relationship and conceal their issues from loved ones.
The second stage of divorce is typically marked by anger and resentment as the situation becomes an unavoidable reality. Couples may engage in blame-shifting and express their frustrations toward each other.
Couples will engage in negotiations during the bargaining period to save their marriage. They might wonder what they could have done better or speculate about what life would be like if they broke up the partnership. This stage can be difficult because it calls for accepting the possibility of living without the other individual.
Couples often go through depression in the fourth stage of divorce as they accept the end of their union. This period, which typically involves loss and grief, can be distressing, as the couple accepts the end of their marriage. This stage can be made even more devastating by legal entanglements as the divorcing partners vie for custody, access to previously shared resources, and more. Many people going through a divorce find it helpful to have the support of a legal representative and experienced professional. If you have questions about how to help your children through a divorce while navigating the often complex legal processes yourself, consider reaching out to the team at Colorado Divorce Law Group to schedule a consultation.
Acceptance is the fifth and final step of divorce. At this point, couples are going on with their lives and are at peace with their choices. Even though they may still feel regretful, they start to think positively and appreciate the advantages of being single.
Concerned about how to help your children through a divorce? Many families find it helpful to remember that the adjustment process is not short-term and may take different forms for different children, even within a single family. Many times, coming to grips with the changes in family life is an extended journey, with a series of ups and downs.
Children’s reactions to the changes in their lives may vary widely, but some researchers have identified three distinct stages.
When the decision has been made to separate, it can be a difficult time for everyone in the family. Younger children may not understand the full ramifications of a divorce. Older children could start to feel resentment toward one parent or toward both parents. Regardless of their immediate responses, children need to feel reassured during this stage of the divorce.
With the choice to separate and divorce, one parent may move out, or both parents may move to new homes. During the transition stage. changes in a child’s behavior may become more apparent. As the child slowly adjusts to the new dynamics, it can take a significant amount of time for a child to feel safe and secure. Occasionally, this stage can last for up to two to three years.
The new family life normalizes during the restabilization phase as the family begins to adapt to all the changes caused by the split. Getting to this point could take up to five years for some households. The child may eventually come to terms with the divorce during this period. With support, they start to feel safer in their environment and have better emotional control. If emotional problems persist after this period, it may be time to find a therapist or counselor to assist the child with their mental health.
Children can experience difficulty and emotional turmoil during a divorce. Parents should take time to reassure them during this transition. They can assist with adjustment to the changes in their family structure by remaining engaged in their lives, maintaining open communication, and seeking professional assistance when necessary. As you think about ways to help your children through a divorce, consider scheduling a consultation with the Colorado Divorce Law Group by calling (720) 593-6442.