You already know divorce is hard for you. When you have children, it gets harder. You can’t help but wonder: is divorce bad for kids? Some couples stay in bad marriages to protect their kids while others feel they need to push forward with divorce.
This question brings no simple answers. Your children may struggle; splitting a family does not come without some impact. Even so, you can help them through it and sometimes even become closer as a result. With a careful approach and good communication, you can be good parents during and after the divorce.
Kids often get embarrassed by their parents’ divorce. They see friends whose parents seem very much in love and think there is something wrong in their own home. They might be afraid to have friends over or to talk about their lives. This shame can affect their social lives.
You can mitigate this to some extent. Approach your kids together and talk through what you are doing, and why. Helping them understand this can reduce the sense of shame they may feel. Openness with them may reduce some of what could make divorce bad for kids.
Sometimes shame comes from something more specific: belief that the divorce is their fault. You know this is not true. Your marriage has not worked out for any of a thousand different reasons. Just like adults, though, kids sometimes have trouble seeing past their own worlds. If you are divorcing, they can blame themselves.
Letting those feelings fester can make divorce bad for kids. You can’t control this, but you can certainly help. Talk to them about why you are divorcing. Tell them not only that it isn’t their fault, but that you do not blame them. The more they can understand about what happened, the less likely they are to blame themselves.
Rebellion and Acting Out
Your kids may feel a bit lost. You can’t help but focus on what you need to do. You are dividing up your lives, including deciding how custody and parenting time will work. Sometimes, kids will act out at school or home to feel like they have some control. Fighting, slipping grades or general misbehavior can all result from this.
A sense of just feeling like a “piece moved in a process” can make divorce bad for kids. To counter this, make sure you do things with and for your kids. You shouldn’t try to buy good behavior, but take time out to focus on them. Your children are important to you. You know this; make sure they know it too.
Jaded View of Relationships
Divorce affects your kids well past the conclusion of the legal proceedings. Many kids see their parents’ divorce as meaning that relationships cannot last. Kids’ friendships and romantic relationships may suffer. For a child who saw your marriage as representing what love is, it can feel much bigger and have a lasting impact.
Talking to your kids can help. More than this, make an effort to help them see the good in your relationship with your spouse. You had reasons to get married and have kids who will always connect you. Do your best to show your kids the positives–in your relationship with your spouse and with the kids themselves.
Many factors can make divorce bad for kids. You can reduce those effects by taking steps to help them through it. To learn more about how to navigate divorce with kids, contact one of the professionals at Best Legal Choices today.