The effects of divorce on children are forever being evaluated and re-evaluated. Each child is unique, and some have the ability to manage change more effectively than others. One thing that is certain is that divorce is hard on kids, even when the divorcing couple is amicable with each other.
There is a tremendous amount of adjustment that takes place during and post-divorce for children. The children’s lives are effectively turned upside down and doubled – parents now live in two separate dwellings and there are two sets of everything; two bedrooms at two houses with two sets of toys and clothing, two birthday parties and special occasion events to attend, two parenting access schedules that must be balanced with school, extracurricular, and having fun with friends and just being a kid.
All these changes can feel overwhelming, and that feeling is only exacerbated when parents are not able to effectively co-parent.
Even when parents do their best to keep their personal issues with each other from their children, children nevertheless pick up on the tension. Children are wonderful, curious darlings – they evaluate body language, ingest and analyze each off-handed comment, find ways to listen in on their parents’ conversations with other adults. If you’re talking negatively about your ex-spouse, you can bet your children will know.
Children shouldn’t feel torn between their parents – they shouldn’t be asked to take sides, and they shouldn’t be forced to listen to one parent bad mouth the other.
Time and again research shows that children whose parents encourage them to have loving and respectful relationships with both parents, are able to overcome the many challenges that divorce imposes, and go on to lead happy and successful lives. But one parent can’t do it alone – it takes both parents to make this pact with each other to put their children first and follow through no matter what.
When you’re unable to effectively co-parent reach out to professionals for help. You’re not alone. Many agencies offer co-parenting education courses, therapists like those at the Marriage and Family Clinic at Southern Connecticut State University can assist parents in learning how to effectively co-parent during and post-divorce, and trained family mediators can help parents build effective communication and conflict resolution skills so that when issues arise, you’ll be able to address them in a positive, constructive manner.
The effects of divorce on children don’t end when the divorce is finalized. It’s crucial as co-parents to work together and resolve issues post divorce in a manner that’s in the best interests of your children, minimizing any negativity that may arise.
Contact us for more information on how mediation can assist you and your co-parent resolve disputes in a healthy way.