Helping Children During Divorce
During a divorce - the time between separation and the legal end of the marriage - the loss of established routines upsets the lives of everyone involved. Depending on the circumstances unique to each family, everything from the location of the home to even the bedtimes of the children may be deranged. This can be particularly upsetting to children.
During this time, life for everyone involved may seem uncomfortably improvisational, and this can be very difficult for children, who crave routines.
"A child’s perception of divorce will be largely determined by age and gender, as well as the child’s history of stress and coping. When stressful events outweigh available protective factors, even the most resilient child can develop problems," according to the North Carolina State University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. A growing body of information suggests that certain factors may make some children more at risk for maladjustment than other children. Some are unalterable and some existed before divorce. Others exert considerable pressure on children at the time of the separation, and still others influence the children following divorce.
According to the people at North Carolina Life Sciences, here are the risk factors:
Divorcing parents must actively listen to their children. For example, when a child says, "I’m scared," the parent cannot say, "Don’t be scared." Instead the parent should say, "What are you scared about?"
Divorcing parents cannot control the age of their children at the time of the breakup, nor can they often control all of the financial dislocations of a divorce. However, the mitigation of marital conflict, the stress of parental relationships, the civility between the spouses, and even the perception of loss of the noncustodial parent - all can be worsened or improved by parental behavior.
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THE DON’Ts – Good parenting through divorce has a dimension that is negatively defined. Good divorced parents do not speak badly or make accusations about the other parent in front of a child. They do not force a child to choose sides, or use a child as a messenger or go-between, or pump a child for information about the other parent, or argue or discuss child support issues in front of a child. In short, they do not use a child as a pawn to hurt the other parent.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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