About Divorce and Kids

Divorce can be one of the most difficult components of marriage. In many cases, men and women view divorce as an adult issue that should be discussed and carried on behind closed doors, unaware that divorce is very much a family affair, albeit a painful one. For a child, the difficult transition through a divorce can be challenging, heartbreaking and full of confusion, misinterpretation and feelings of fault and helplessness. As a father it is vital to embrace and soothe your child during this difficult time. Being aware of their feelings, concerns and answering their questions with honesty and love can not only help ease some of their hurt, but can strengthen the bond between a father and his child.

Change is always something that is frightening, especially for children. Children understand that with the oncoming divorce, their lives are going to drastically change, and this new change can be incredibly frightening; their comfort zones have been completely overthrown. Meal times will changes, household schedules will be different, the ability to see dad whenever they want will be altered and contact with other family members may become strained and less frequent. This creates a terrible sense of upheaval for them. Talking with your children about these changes in a frank and caring manner is the best way to address change. Change does not equate a loss of love and while there may be aspects of transformation that need to be modified, be clear and concise that your love for them will always be consistent and unwavering.

Many children fear abandonment during the course of a divorce. They worry that they will lose a parent, or that their dad or mom will find another family they love more. This is a realistic fear and must be dealt with gently. Letting your child know that you love them and will always be there for them, and that distance, and a new environment is nothing to be upset or afraid of. Make sure your child is aware that they will never be discarded or replaced and they are still the most important part of your life.

Of the toughest aspects of dealing with a divorce and children is handling the parental tension between a husband and wife. This tension is easily transferred to children and can create an environment that is unhealthy for everyone involved. Divorce is not easy and amounts of tension are going to be present even in the most civil homes. It is the manner in which this tension is handled and how such strain is relocated that will determine the responsiveness of a child. Attempting to turn a child against their mother can cause adverse reactions and can create an impossible and extremely stressful situation for a child. Likewise, women who attempts to turn children against their father can present a difficult situation. Remind your child that while adults fight and sometimes say hurtful things, your child was created in love and their importance in your life will never change.

Accept the fact that during some point of your divorce, your child will attempt to reunite you with his/her mother. This stems from the belief that the divorce is their fault and all the problems and guilt will be fixed if you come together. The child will attempt to show off exceptional behavior or be perfect, or adversely, act out in a negative manner in an attempt to bring parents together on a unified front. Aggression and defiance can accompany this phase and it is important that you react responsively and understand anger is a normal component of divorce, but, explain to your child the healthy ways to express that anger. Again, communication is key. While men are not known for being expressive talkers, big words and extreme knowledge about feelings is not a requirement. Simply engage your child and be aware that they are hurting. Be aware of extreme modifications in behavior and keep the doors of communication and honesty open. In the end, divorce is never an easy, fun process, but, as a proactive and supportive father, you have the ability to offer love and assurance in all situations.