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According to an independent study done in 2018, the average marriage in Australia lasts around 12.3 years. By that time there are, on average, at least two children per marriage. Often these children will suffer psychological or emotional distress as a result of their parent’s separation.
Making use of one of the family lawyers Essendon has on offer will ensure that you get all the legalities sorted out. But where does that leave your children?
Divorce Puts Children in the Middle
Sometimes it’s very difficult for couples to realize that as hard as divorce is on them, it’s harder on the children. While parents fight over custody, draw up new living arrangements, and sometimes even finding new schools, children’s mental well-being often falls by the way-side.
An important point for parents to note is that they decided mutually to divorce. Children don’t choose to be put between two unhappy and sometimes feuding parents. But often, that’s exactly what happens. The challenge to parents is to communicate with children to avoid this from happening.
Common Effects of Divorce on Children
It’s important to remember that not all children react in the same manner. There are many factors that will determine how children react to a divorce. To children, it’s about more than just parents separating. It’s also a breaking up of the household and the whole family dynamic.
Let’s have a look at some of the effects children may experience during or after a divorce.
Stress and Anxiety
Younger children are more prone to bouts of anxiety and feelings of stress during a divorce. This is because they’re dependent on both parents to care for them. They’re accustomed to doing different things with each parent in the home dynamic.
With a divorce, one parent moves out, and the dynamic changes. Children don’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with this situation on their own and it manifests as anxiety.
Irritability, Depression, and Sadness
Researchers have noted that divorce is one of the biggest causes of depression in children. While parents may be stressed about the process, ultimately, they are glad the situation is coming to an end. Children experience the other end of this spectrum. They experience a feeling of heartbreak and sometimes anguish.
Children may also become irritable and act out even when they’re interacting with friends or family. If these feelings aren’t dealt with, there could be repercussions like nightmares and negative thoughts.
Researchers have also found that the sense of loss that a young or sensitive child might feel after or during divorce is often on the same stress level as that of bereavement.
Trouble with Relationships
Children who grow up seeing their parents’ marriage fail, develop trust issues. They may find it challenging to deal with conflict in future relationships. Children in these situations may be inclined to start a relationship with a negative mindset that it’s “doomed to fail.”
Steps to Help Children Through a Divorce
There are a few ways to help your children get through your divorce. There is some advice taken from a family law attorney in Katy and here are a few of them:
- Emotional backup support: Ensure the child has an emotional support system in place. The support could come from grandparents, aunts, or godparents. These people must stay as neutral as possible when interacting with the kids.
- Be upfront about the divorce: Don’t wait until the last minute to reveal that you’re getting a divorce. The child needs time to adjust. Once you’ve had a meeting with the solicitors Essendon offers, you should have a sit-down with the child and be upfront.
- Don’t blame or demean your partner: Ensure that your child understands that the divorce is not their fault. More importantly, don’t blame or belittle your partner in front of the children. Remember, the other person is still their parent whom they love and respect.
- Don’t use the children as emotional blackmail: Often the divorce is not amicable. A hurt or bitter partner might decide to use custody of the children as emotional blackmail over the other person. This has a negative effect on the children, especially if they feel they need to choose one parent above another.
- Maintain a healthy routine: Wherever possible, don’t let your divorce disrupt your child’s routine. Keep bathing, feeding, and sleeping times the same. Change of dynamic doesn’t mean “no” or “new” rules. Keeping a set routine will allow the child some security and he or she won’t feel as if “everything is falling apart.”
Effects can be Positive
Children aren’t as oblivious to a couple’s problems as you might think, according to Wolfe & Stec. It’s also not easy to safeguard children from the effects of fighting parents. Constant animosity could have far worse effects than the divorce itself. Sometimes, if handled correctly, children may realize they can still have the best of both parents, just not in the same manner as before.
Divorce can be devastating for all parties involved. Make the effort to keep proceedings as amicable as possible. Ensure that your children have emotional support during the whole process. By doing this, you’ll have peace of mind that your child will come out of the situation in the best manner possible.