Divorce and separation issues are very hard on children. Whether parents are starting the divorce, discussing the break up or have already gone their individual ways, children are often assumed to be in the dark about the whole situation. Nothing could be further from the truth.
First of all, regardless of how hard you try to hide your arguments from your children, they do feel the pressure. They do hear the discussions. Children are masters of eaves dropping.
Secondly, children feel our pain and stress. We may try to mask our anger and hurt but our children know us better than anyone. They can see when Mom or Dad no longer react to one another the way the same. They also notice the small things we take for granted.
Finally, our children do not communicate how the family changes are affecting them the way we think they should. Some children will act out, screaming and yelling, while others may become withdrawn and quiet.
How do you know when to seek counseling for your child during divorce? Watch for signs. Look for changes in their behavior , personality, preferences, etc. If your child is normally outgoing but has suddenly become quiet and withdrawn, something is going on. If your child’s grades have drastically dropped and he can no longer focus in school or sports, it’s time to take a closer look. Has your child become fixated on destructive habits? Is he/she refusing to communicate with you? Does she suddenly have different likes and dislikes? Are his friendships being affected?
When you are going through your own breakup or you are busy rebuilding your life, it’s easy to overlook the signs with your child. Be sure to continue to talk through the problems, concerns and questions he or she may have. Don’t forget that they still love BOTH of you; your ex is still his or her Mom or Dad. Assure the child that just because you are divorcing the parent, that is not about them. The marriage was between you and the other parent and the divorce is between you both as well. Let the child know that the divorce is not their fault. Bring in a counselor to work through issues if the child is angry or unwilling to talk. It’s perfectly acceptable to work through these issues. Here are two helpful links for working with children during your divorce: Kids Dos and Kids Don’ts
When is it time to take action in the court to address your child’s issues? Are you seeing these issues but your ex is not? Does your ex want your child to have therapy but you refuse to allow it? Does your daughter report that she doesn’t want to visit her father? Did your ex tell you that your son consistently complains about his time with you? If you and your ex can’t see eye to eye on the existence of these issues or the treatment of these issues, you may need to bring them before the Court and get an Order in place for therapy or to set some ground rules for consistency with parenting. Talk to me about this issue and I will help you to determine when and if it is necessary to go before the Court on an issue.
Still working through your concerns about the divorce or break up? Contact me and we will discuss your specific case.