DIVORCE IS A PROCESS
Divorce is not one specific event; it is an ongoing process of transitions that a family must go through together. Divorce with children can be even more daunting and stressful to the parents. The parents have to deal not only with the changes and trauma in their own lives, but also the confusion created in their children’s lives. A divorce is, oftentimes, hard for children to understand and to work through emotionally. It involves big life changes for everyone in a family, children and grown ups alike. Therefore, helping children through a divorce is an important part of the process for parents to consider.
YOUR CHILDREN’S FEELINGS
Children have feelings they may not be able to express regarding the divorce. It is important that children be encouraged to communicate and work through all the emotions, fears and feelings that they have. Children at any age have questions about their parent’s divorce. And, parents can do many things to help children cope with the changes. Keep conversations simple, and speak out of love. Also, make sure they hear that their parents “love them, and always will”.
WHAT ABOUT THERAPY
For the parents, therapy can be an excellent tool in getting through this process. Guilt and anxiety abound in those who have children and who are getting a divorce. Many parents fear they are ruining their child’s life by this choice. Open, honest communication with the children and seeking help when needed will benefit both the child and the parents in the long run. However, in some cases, child/family therapy may be indicated.
There are signs that your children may be showing stress such as changes in sleep or eating patterns, unusual problems with friends or at school, and uncharacteristic fear of being away from you. For more information on how parents can help their children, and other resources available to families going through a divorce, visit American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy.
CHILDREN AND FAMILY THERAPY
So, as Meri Wallace, LCSW points out, the help of a family therapist is one of her 8 top strategies in helping kids through the divorce process. When children engage in therapy, they learn how to communicate and navigate through their feelings and confusions about the divorce. It should be noted that therapy for a child can be sought as a helpful tool for children at any stage of a divorce.
Studies have shown that “having the cooperation and participation of both parents maximizes the likelihood of a positive treatment outcome” for children in therapy. And, recent research shows that “while adolescent children are more likely to face short-term mental health challenges following a split, these issues tend to relent after four to nine months.”
It is important to remember that there are varied reactions that children can have to divorce. After all, this is a time of great change for them. It is important to continue to check in on children, keep conversations going, and encourage them to share feelings and thoughts. This kind of positive parenting before and after a divorce helps to decrease internalizing and externalizing problems within children.
Knoxville and surrounding areas have an extensive amount of family psychologists and children-specific counselors who can help you and your children with the transition of divorce. Do not hesitate to reach out to a professional for either yourself or your children.
Divorce is a tumultuous, and scary time for all involved. We understand the fear and guilt. So, if you are considering divorce, please remember that Held Law Firm is here for you. Let us take care of the legal aspects and you be the loving parent for your children. We’ll find the light at the end of the tunnel with you.