HOW DOES DIVORCE AFFECT CHILDREN?
That depends on how their parents behave. No child is unaffected by their parents' divorce, and all children carry a secret wish that their parents will get back together, even 50 year old off spring like to see their divorced parents in the same room and being congenial! The pain is far reaching but some people doggedly refuse to end the battle. Apparently a fight breaks out at 1 in 8 weddings, and I bet a lot of these are caused by the divorced parents of the bride. I was at a wedding once where the groom's parents were both remarried and had been for years, but his mother refused to be in any photographs with his father. How selfish is that? Unsurprisingly the said groom has now emigrated to Australia!
HOW CAN I HELP MY CHILDREN COPE WITH THE DIVORCE?
- Encourage your child to express his/her grief, as long as the methods chosen are legal and cause no harm to others.
- Allow your child to criticise you. If you choose to end the marriage you will be blamed, even if you were regularly beaten by your spouse. Children cling to what they know, even those who are abused by their parents, so it is hardly surprising that they long for their parents to remain a unit.
- Do not criticise the other parent, there are plenty of other people who may relish hearing how awful he/she is but your children will be devastated, it's a certain way to knock their self esteem, second only to calling them an idiot or shouting that you wished they had never been born!
- Do not use your child as a messenger. If you can't bear to talk to your separated spouse then use a lawyer or an adult. Plus, children typically don't listen to boring instructions when they are on the way out the door.
- Do not pump your child for information about the other parent, they will feel disloyal either way. If your child chooses to tell you that daddy's new girlfriend is much prettier than you fine, but don't ask the question.
- Don't trick your children by introducing them to your new partner too soon and pretending this is a platonic friend. They will be hurt when they find out the truth, especially if they liked your new "friend".
-Try to let your children see you being civil to each other. Even if that only extends to an insincere "hello, how are you?" your children will feel so much better than being dropped off at the end of the road because mum, or worse, mum's new husband hates dad!
- Think about the future. Do you want to be an embarrassment to your children at their wedding? At the birth of your first grandchild?
READY TO COOPERATE?
A great website to help parents is www.uptoparents.org
A WORD ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Be cautious in your dealings with your ex partner if he/she is abusive to you or the children. Children's physical safety is paramount and comes before their emotional well being for obvious reasons.