Doctors have started recently to understand how different adverse childhood experiences can impact someone’s physical, social and emotional development. Parents divorcing is one of the most difficult and common adverse childhood experiences that the average child in the western world might endure.
Even with the best of intentions and a cautious approach, your divorce will be difficult for your children to process. However, with the right attitude and focus, you can potentially minimize the three negative consequences listed below that children often experience after a parental divorce.
Loss of their sense of security
Your family is the main source of social and physical stability for the children. When they don’t know what to expect from their parents or when they have to move to a new place, they may feel vulnerable and unsafe.
You can help counter this by letting your child know how committed you remain to being a good parent to them and letting them know that these changes don’t impact how much you love them.
Learning to suppress feelings like guilt, anger or grief
Children need to feel like they can express themselves and their feelings when going through a tumultuous time or they won’t develop emotional coping tools. Although it can be hard to bear the brunt of a child’s negative emotions, it’s crucial that parents remember that children lash out at those with whom they feel safest.
Encouraging your child to process their emotions while acknowledging that you also have a lot to process can help. So can seeking professional counseling in high-conflict cases. Helping your child find a healthy way to express their emotions from the divorce will lead to lifelong benefits.
Changes to their relationships with both parents
The couple going through a divorce will inevitably have intense emotional reactions to the situation. The way that parents express themselves can either help children or make things more difficult for them.
As hard as it can be to suppress negative feelings toward your ex, it’s important that you be kind or at least professional when communicating with them, especially in front of the children. It’s also crucial that you be careful about how you talk about your ex in front of the children.
A child’s self-identity is often intertwined with their perception of their parents. Hearing that their parent is cruel or stupid can not only affect how they view the other parent and you but also how they view themselves. Shielding them from your negative thoughts about your ex and your confrontations with them is the best way to minimize long-term changes in self-perception and parental relationships.
Keeping the focus on what is best for your children can help you handle shared custody with minimal negative consequences for your kids.