Treatment Strategies for Children of Divorce
As much as getting divorced is difficult and stressful for husbands and wives, it is particularly distressing for their children. Because children lack the maturity, wisdom and experience of adults (and being out of the information loop), this limited ability to comprehend their parents' divorce can be both frightening and anxiety provoking to them.
From a child's perspective their parents' divorce represents a complete dismantling of a reality they once knew - even if that reality was filled with their parents' constant arguing and disagreements. Moreover, their distress is further heightened by observing the same in their parents as they react to the change in their relationship and circumstances.
Children's responses to their parents' divorce are quite variable. Some children act out while others internalize their upset. But one thing is for sure, it does not go unnoticed or without consequence.
The research on children's adjustment to divorce is pretty clear in stating that the first six months following seperation is a period marked by acute distress and disruption. However, for most children, a new "normal" is established in their lives within a year. Children's adjustment to divorce (both positive and negative) is largely influenced by their parents' conduct. The rule of thumb in this regard is - as soon as the parents settle down, so will the children.
The following are the most effective treatment strategies for children of divorce:
Let the child know that he or she is loved by both parents and that the changes is the family do not in any way change how either parent feels about the child.
Maintain as normal a daily routine as possible.
If possible, try to stay in the child's residence (or neighborhood) and maintain the same school - at least until things stabilize or until the end of the school year.
Spend time with your child doing something he or she will enjoy - focus on your children's interests and needs.
Reassure your child that although there are many changes occuring in the family, things will settle down and life will get easier - maintain a positive attitude toward the changes that are taking place.
There is no easy way to get through any process that involves drastic changes to a family's organization and structure. However, the one thing that will add tremendously to your child's distress during the divorce process is to burden him or her with your upset over the divorce or with your spouse. Without a doubt, this is a definate "no-no"!
To learn more about
divorce and its effects on children
To learn how to develop
an effective parenting plan
Dr. Reena Sommer,
M.Sc. (Family Studies),
Ph.D.(Psychology & Family Studies)
Divorce & Custody Consultant
League City, Texas 77573
Dr. Reena Sommer
For more information on divorce and custody
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