Other Articles from Tina Masai
Helping Children Cope with Divorce
Marriage is ideally an institution that is built on cultural and personal values: Starting a family, love, financial security, and lasting companionship.
Sometimes, the foundation for marriage can have a shaky start. This may contributes to major dissatisfaction in either or both partners and eventually lead to divorce. Such is the case when certain people who are neither very compatible nor share similar value systems start a life together.
In some marriages despite a good start, issues may begin to emerge. Addiction problems, financial challenges and infidelity are among these emerging issues.
With divorce looming, each member of the family develops their own way of coping, children included. This is all the more so since research shows that more than half of the marriages that end in divorce have children who are under 18.
Children are keen observers of conflict. They may react through external behavior such as a dip in school performance, aggression and isolating oneself. Some children may regress into past behavior such as bed wetting. It is not uncommon for even young children and toddlers to experience depression. Just as you experience a sense of loss, so do children.
In some instances, the children are the strongest advocates for divorce as is sometimes seen in violent homes.
As you begin to rebuild your life and adjust to a new status, be aware that your child is doing the same. As you begin this process, engage your child. They may have questions; respond as is appropriate to their age. They do not have to know all that is going on, but you do owe them basic answers and explanations that they can understand.
To them, understanding why their lives have changed can open the door for dealing with their feelings.
This may also help mitigate negative external behaviour. Remember, your child is not your best friend. Do not burden them with your issues as a grown-up. Find friends with whom you can share this burden, out of earshot, and thereby allow children to be children. It may become easy to speak negatively about the other parent but never do so to the children or in their hearing.
Do your best to keep the child on a consistent routine.
That sense of order in their lives is invaluable in helping them adjust to a new life. Some children may have experienced a considerable amount of trauma that continues to affect them even after separation. Therapy is a useful option – if your budget allows or your insurance covers it, by all means get them seen by a child psychologist.
Take time for self-care. Remember, the well-being of the primary caregiver also affects the children. If you prioritize me-time, this will help your children directly.
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