A new study suggests that many divorcing parents overlook the effects separation has on children, which means parents might unintentionally be making the split harder than it needs to be on their kids.
Separate studies conclude that the elements of a divorce are viewed differently from the eyes of a child. According to researchers:
- Children are three times as likely to have witnessed their parents fighting than the adults realized.
- 13 percent of children blamed themselves for the split, but only five percent of parents acknowledged that their child felt this way.
- 80 percent of parents believed their child “coped well” with the divorce, while only 33 percent of children felt that they handled the break up well.
- Less than a fifth of children said they were happy their parents were separated, while a third said they still felt “devastated” about the split.
- 1 in 5 children said they had experimented with alcohol to cope with feelings during and after their parents’ divorce, while 1 in 9 said they had self-harmed.
The effects of a divorce can be long-reaching, and parents need to take note, said Siobhan Freegard, who runs a site that allows users to share parental advice with one another.
“Divorce may be a little word but it has a huge effect,” said Freegard. “It is estimated that one in three children see their parents separate before the age of 16.While experts acknowledge it is better to come from a broken family than live in one, this research shows not enough is being done to support youngsters through the break-up process.”
Freegard added that “children need security” in order to flourish during and after a divorce.
Finding That Support
Family Law Attorney Amanda Crain said she’s seen the effects of divorce firsthand, but both she and the courts have systems in place to make sure children aren’t forgotten about throughout the process.
“In all contested divorce proceedings in Minnesota, parents are required to attend parent education programs,” said Crain. “These programs teach parents the impact of divorce on children, and they also provide valuable tools for guiding children through this difficult process.”
Crain said children might feel uncomfortable discussing their true feelings with parents, so she often recommends that parents seek counseling if their children seem withdrawn. She believes a counselor can help answer tough questions a child might have, as well as provide an open forum for them to ask questions.
“Parents should also consider therapy for their children as they cope with the divorce, which may involve one or both parents depending on the recommendations of the particular therapist,” said Crain. “Even if parents perceive their children as coping well with the divorce, they should still take the necessary steps to work with the other parent and address their children’s concerns and feelings throughout the process.”
Crain concluded that it’s very important that parents remain cognizant of their children’s demeanor throughout the divorce.
“Even if you and your spouse leave on good terms, your child may have different feeling about the divorce. Make sure you let them know you care about them before, during, and after the split.”
Related source: Telegraph.Co.Uk