Parents who are getting a divorce are frequently worried about the effect the divorce will have on their children but maybe preoccupied with their own problems. While parents may be devastated or relieved by the divorce, children are invariably frightened and confused by this threat to their security. Children can misinterpret divorce unless parents tell them what is happening and what will happen to them.
Children often believe they have caused the conflict between their mother and father. Vulnerability to both physical and mental illnesses can originate in the traumatic loss of one or both parents through divorce. With care and attention, children can be helped to deal constructively with the resolution of parental conflict.
Parents must be alert to signs of distress in their children as some may react by becoming more aggressive and uncooperative or withdrawing. Older children may feel deep sadness and loss. Behavior problems are common. Children of divorce often have trouble with their own relationships. Children must know their mother and father will still be their parents even though the marriage is ending.
Parents’ ongoing commitment to the child’s well being is vital. Psychotherapy for the children of divorce, and the divorcing parents, can be helpful.
Vol 21 Issue 2 page 4