Like many parents, you may find that raising children is the main source of joy and reward in your life; yet, at the same time, it might also be on of your greatest challenges, especially if you're going through a divorce.
By relying on friends and family, as well as the appropriate resources and your own common sense, you can help your kids come to terms with your divorce and adapt to a "new normal" for the family. As you can imagine, children often struggle emotionally when they learn that their parents have decided to end the marriage. The more you know about what your kids may be going through, the better able you will be to help your children cope.
Sons and daughters react differently
Psychologists have observed that children tend to identify with their same-sex parent. Even if that parent has done something wrong, such as have an extra-marital affair, the child of the same sex might associate his or her feelings with that parent's emotions. Children of non-divorced parents have tendencies like this as well; however, in divorce, it can cause added emotional stress if the other parent sends mixed messages by telling a child not to be like his or her mother or father.
Adults divorce, not children
Your divorce is a personal decision, and it definitely impacts the lives of your children. However, it is you and your spouse who are getting divorced, not the kids. Children do not divorce their parents, but kids sometimes worry, especially if they are younger, that their parents will "divorce" them as they did each other. Children need reassurance that this will not happen. It's important to explain to your kids that your divorce is not their fault and that you are happy they love and feel loyal toward both their parents.
Children may try to take on adult roles
With one parent gone from the household, your older kids may feel like it is their responsibility to step in and fulfill the obligations of the other parent. This often materializes by older kids trying to discipline their younger siblings or teenagers asking if they should get a job to help pay the bills, etc. Children placing undue emotional burdens on themselves can experience high levels of stress. It is critical that you let your children know it is okay for them to still enjoy their childhood.
Other problems that can delay healing
One of the most stressful experiences children can have is witnessing their parents becoming entangled in disputes, such as fighting over custody or one parent getting upset that the other refuses to adhere to an existing court order. The good news is that there are resources available to help you resolve such issues so that you and your children can get life back on track and keep stress levels as low as possible.