Divorce: Are the children adapting?

Parents end up filing for divorce all the time. They realize their relationship just isn’t working out and decide that it’d be better to both raise their children – just not while still married and living in the same home. In many cases, after years of fighting, infidelity and other marital issues, divorce is actually even welcoming.

However, when it comes to children, it’s important to make sure that both parents — even though they are divorced — work together as a team to raise their children and keep their eyes open to any warning signs that the kids are not adjusting to the divorce in a healthy way.

Marie Harwell-Walker, who is a psychologist, says there are a number of indicators that children may be struggling with the divorce.

No. 1 is if a child is siding with one parent. If this happens, now would be a good time for parents to remind the child that divorce is adult business and that their main focus should just be about being a kid and not taking sides. The idea is to encourage a loving and caring relationship with both parents.

Another indicator is if the child is suddenly over-achieving or under-achieving. These could both be signs that either the child thinks being perfect will take the stress off their parents and make them get along, or that under-achieving will distract the parents from complaining about each other. If either of these sounds like a familiar scenario, it’s important for the parents to make changes to the way they interact with each other and to make sure the children see these changes.

Lastly, if there is more than one child, and it seems that one is relying too heavily on the other, this can be a sign that the child has doubts their parents can care for them physically and emotionally. If this happens, and let’s say a parent notices a little sister always asking her big brother for help making lunch, it would be a good time to step in and suggest mom or dad helps her make lunch.

In the end, the No. 1 thing for parents to remember is that children are often a mirror of their parents. This means that if children see their parents are adapting and managing in a healthy way, they too are more likely to adapt to the divorce.

Source: Huffington Post, “Are the Kids Alright?” Marie Hartwell-Walker, June 7, 2012

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