The suffering of children in a divorce

We are yet to find a manual on marriage and raising children. If only we were taught how to ‘lead a loving and responsible family life’ at school, maybe there wouldn’t be such a high divorce rate!

It’s alarming to see how common it is to have divorced parents. Divorce Statistics for most first marriages are 45-50%, 2nd Marriages 60-67%, 3rd Marriages 70-73% end in divorce. Source of this Divorce Statistics: Jennifer Baker, Forest Institute of Professional Psychology, Springfield, America. So, I suppose if you’re getting a divorce the first time, you may want to think carefully before you decide to get married again and be very sure you are marrying for the right reasons.

But what about the children involved, how do they deal with divorce? According to Helpguide.org, ‘providing stability in your home and attending to your children’s physical and emotional needs with a reassuring, positive attitude will help them cope with the stress of a divorce.’ Children look up to their parents for love, advice and reassurance. It is not easy for a young child to comprehend that all of a sudden one parent is good and another is bad. It is difficult for the child/children to choose a side.

The following points are provided by Helpguide.org to assist children dealing with divorce. ‘Help kids express feelings, for kids a divorce can feel like loss: the loss of a parent, the loss of the life they know. You can help your children grieve and adjust to new circumstances by supporting their feelings. Listen. Encourage your child to share their feelings and really listen to them. They may be feeling sadness, loss or frustration about things you may not have expected. Help them find words for their feelings. It’s normal for children to have difficulty expressing their feelings. You can help them by noticing their moods and encouraging them to talk. Let them be honest. Children in divorce might be reluctant to share their true feelings for fear of hurting you. Let them know that whatever they say is okay. If they aren’t able to share it, they will have a harder time working through it. Acknowledge their feelings. You may not be able to fix their problems or change their sadness to happiness, but it is important for you to acknowledge their feelings. You can also inspire trust by showing that you understand.’

When a child is exposed to constant arguing and name calling; their response is to blame themselves. When they hear that their parents are getting divorced, they assume that they had done something to cause it. It is imperative, as a responsible parent, to inform the children why it is happening. By assuming that they will be fine and just deal with it, is not the solution. Other than giving your child/children reassurance, love and understanding; it is important, given their age, to see a counsellor or psychologist. By placing a child in front of an objective person allows them to truly express their feelings. Children will try to hide their emotions, especially when they can see the way their parents behave around them. The last thing they want to do is cause more problems.

By seeing a professional therapist it gives the child an opportunity to perceive the situation from another point of view and it also provides them with knowledge to lead a future free of blame. This opens doors for them in the future when they choose a partner. They learn that problems can be resolved and there can be such a thing as a happy marriage. At least give them a chance. By Adriana Levi.