For most parents who decide to divorce the first concern is about not harming the children. Maybe you went through your parents’ divorce and now you feel it negatively affected you. Here are some points to know:
- It can be difficult when you are going through a difficult time in your life to also have to consider that this change will be challenging to your children. Their sadness and/or anger may be normal, but it may be especially worrisome or hard for you to deal with their feelings when you have your own painful feelings.
- Over the past 35 years researchers have looked at how divorce impacts children over time. And in general the research shows that children and teens, with the help and support of their parents, can be quite resilient and do well in their lives. Divorce doesn’t have to ruin your child’s life.
- Going through one’s parents’ divorce can certainly lead to a child’s distress and present new challenges. However, your children’s relationships with their parents, and ongoing parental involvement in their lives contributes to your child’s ability and capacity to cope with the family changes and to move forward. A warm nurturing relationship with each parent helps kids heal.
- Even if the stress of your divorce is interfering with the quality of your parenting, we find that children, in the long run, can do quite well if their parents’ ability to parent recovers over the next year or two.
- The strength of the co-parenting relationship also can be very helpful to your children during this time and there are many resources provided in a Collaborative Divorce to optimize your co-parenting relationship, and benefit your children. Research shows that kids do best when their parents end their own conflict and focus together on the children.
- If you have concerns about your children, it will be important to consult a Child Specialist who can gather and provide information about your specific children and their specific needs for now and in the future. A Child Specialist can also provide a wealth of information about the effects of divorce on kids at different ages, and how you can best support their resilience.
Andrew Lamden, LCSW, is a Collaborative Coach and Child Specialist in Marin County. http://www.collaborativepracticemarin.org/members/Lamden
Photo Credit: Ann Buscho, Ph.D.