In a perfect world, boy meets girl, they get married, raise a family and spend the rest of their lives committed to one another is a joyful, challenging, sometimes sorrowful, always sacred journey. If this article were being posted a mere three or four decades ago, readers would expect nothing less. Much has changed in 40 years, however.
It is not a perfect world and many families have gone through or are going through divorce. Children, in particular often have difficulty verbally articulating how they feel about such things. After all, they love both parents and want them to be happy. In an amicable divorce, this may not only be possible, but likely. However, many situations are quite contentious, which can cause children (and adults) to feel as though they’re riding an emotional roller-coaster.
There have been many studies done on this topic and various family counselors and psychology experts agree that parents can do several things to help children minimize the negative impact divorce can have on their lives. The following are key factors:
- Children need to know their parents’ divorce was not their fault.
- Children thrive on stability.
- Children want to know their parents still love them even though they have chosen to no longer be married to each other.
- Children fare best when provided ample amounts of time with both parents, unless extenuating circumstances would make this detrimental to them in some way.
- Children want their feelings to be acknowledged.
By reassuring your children that you there to listen and want to help them move forward to a happy, successful future in spite of your marital breakup, you may alleviate unspoken fears and provide the confidence and comfort they need to navigate the many changes divorce has brought upon their lives.
Some parents have used the following creative means for encouraging self-expression and discussion:
- Email, text messaging and blogging: For those who feel awkward having intimate, in-person discussions, modern technology offers various tools that can be used to inspire creative communication.
- Artwork: Some children love to illustrate their emotions. A parent can ask them to draw what divorce looks like to them or draw how they’re feeling as a means of sharing their emotions.
- Journaling: Not every thought has to be shared. By encouraging children to keep a private journal, they can put their thoughts on paper without worrying that one or the parent might get upset.
There are many situations where parents determine divorce is not the answer to their problems. Former spouses in such circumstances often recommit to one another by getting remarried. Either way, children often take their cues from their parents. Focusing on children’s best interests and keeping lines of communication open can strengthen family bonds and help them overcome any obstacles that arise along the way.
Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.