The divorce of the parents, how does it affect the children?
When couples make the decision to separate or divorce, they face a grieving process that in most cases generates emotional pain and brings physical and emotional discomfort.
There are divorces that are performed with much more calm, understanding and ease than others; That depends on the type of relationship that was maintained, the years of coexistence, in addition to the emotional and social resources.
What happens to children when a marriage breaks down?
However, The purpose of this article is to focus on the figure of the children . On many occasions, parents, for their own pain, avoid paying attention to the suffering of their children, and we must remember that they are helpless and vulnerable to the decisions of adults and, above all, the last thing they want is to get away from their parents. .
All children suffer from divorce from their parents, some more than others . This depends on the age, personality, relationship with the parents, couple dynamics and circumstances of the divorce. The typical reactions are usually: sadness, anger, worry, anxiety, sometimes they can express it verbally, in other occasions they express it through changes in their behavior.
Facing a successful separation
This article aims to help parents of children between five and ten who have a healthy relationship with their parents, but must face the divorce of their parents. In such a way that they manage to grow and develop as receptive, stable and flexible adults, without the divorce having supposed an insurmountable obstacle in the construction of their personality and their social and emotional skills.
Children, between five and ten years of age, often understand more easily the concept of "divorce" . They assume that they will not be able to see their father or mother so often, that they will change their homes, sometimes school, neighborhood, and that certain types of activities will be different in the future. However, the pain a child experiences due to the absence of their parent when the relationship has been stable and healthy is always present; no matter how hard we try to explain it with many reasons, they miss and want to have the coexistence of a united home.
1. Avoid making children feel guilty of separation
It is important to mention that Many children feel guilty for separating from their parents , although they are explained that they have no responsibility in the decision. They often blame themselves for a long time and even change their behavior believing that they can avoid separation or get their parents back together again.
The most important point and from which the later ones derive is to understand, accept and act knowing that separation is centered on the relationship of the parents; they are the ones who have decided not to continue their lives together . But the children at no time, starting from a healthy relationship, have to get away from their parents. For them, both parents are still essential figures in their lives and, therefore, the changes should not affect the perception that the child has of his or her parent after the divorce.
2. Avoid speaking badly about the other parent
Unfortunately, it is very difficult for parents to make this differentiation and, consciously or unconsciously, for the same pain or stress of separation, they hurt the perception that the child has of his or her parent. In extreme cases, this can lead to Parental Alienation Syndrome (SAP).
Some stories that children mention in consultation are usually referring to their parents' speeches, which easily demonstrate the pain towards the spouse through separation. However, this should not affect the child. The child is vulnerable and can absorb the negative feelings of the "disappointed mom or dad". That is why adults should focus their pain very well and not place children in the middle of "crossfire" in which separations sometimes become.
Then, we continue with other tips that can help adults to handle divorce from a more assertive perspective and trying to make the experience as easy as possible for the children involved.
3. Love and confidence when moving the news of divorce
Parents should focus their efforts on giving their love and trust , fostering an atmosphere of tranquility and respect. They should allow fluent communication and let the child express their thoughts and feelings, including what is not to their liking.
It is important to offer our unconditional support and, above all, to be sincere. We must answer all the questions the child expresses about the new changes , but it is not necessary to go into details regarding marital conflicts.
As parents, we must be confident with the decision, looking for support networks: family, friends, co-workers that are trustworthy and close to face the situation. Never the children can be the "cloth of tears" of the parents .
4. How to communicate the separation
It is vital that both parents are present to be both parents at the time of giving the news to the children. The role as parents is maintained and this is a very distressing moment for the child, therefore, the presence of both will offer you more security .
We must explain concretely, simply and sincerely the decision we have made. It is necessary to transmit a clear and appropriate message for the minor's age. According to your child's way of being, we must reflect on what is the fundamental idea that must be made clear.
Let's always keep an eye on body language, both ours and the little one's , since at that moment the children are listening carefully to what we transmit to them and not only with the words. Therefore, let's make sure to use looks, gestures and hugs that play in favor of the conversation.
5. Attend and report on all matters that may be necessary
We must provide the necessary information so that the child understands the changes that will occur in the future. It is very frequent that parents are extremely stressed, because they must solve a series of economic, family and legal situations arising from the same divorce, and They often downplay aspects that are vital for children .
These important issues for children can be: if you stop seeing your friends, if you change schools, if you can play with neighbors, if you can stay with your pet, finally, the child's concerns should also be addressed, because they mostly depend on the decisions of their parents. So, Before sharing the decision should seek to respond to this type of needs of the small ones .
6. Space, time and tenderness for the child to assimilate the news
Let's offer space for the child to process the information . Children process information in different ways, depending on different variables. The most important thing is to remember that they require time to assimilate them (the estimated time can be from two to six months in the case of parents' divorce).
It is not a good idea for the child to understand the typical phrase: "this is the best decision", because at that moment the little one feels that his parents thought only of themselves as adults , because he does not want to be without his father or mother, so it is necessary that we communicate to him that he has the right to be upset, disappointed, sad or worried. We can even tell you that we regret doing this, and that we give you our full support at this time.
Like all grieving processes, the child needs to place the blame on someone, either on himself or on the parents. It is part of the assimilation process. That is why it is important to listen when you want to talk about the subject, as a way to vent, and pay attention to their mood changes and behaviors: food, sleep, conversation, fatigue, socialization, affectivity, tastes, among others.
Sometimes, children, consciously or unconsciously, They seek to try to please their parents or promote spaces that avoid separation . We must be alert to this type of behavior and, if necessary, point out that it is not a good idea. Also, we must be aware that he does not want to place himself in the "position of the strong", because sometimes they believe that one of their parents needs him and it is their duty to help them, as mentioned at the beginning, no child should assume that role.
7. After separation: communication, space and affection
Let's try to maintain the same routine and rearrange those spaces that evoke the absence of the person , such as the space on the table, the armchair in the television room or personal objects, in such a way that they are used in another way.
We must incorporate new activities that are pleasing for everyone: walks, visiting relatives, inviting companions at home; that benefit both the child and us as parents. We must let the child know that we are happy to know that he feels happy, because many times young children feel guilty about feeling happy.
You have to encourage spaces to feel close to your father or mother. Let us always offer your support and let us know our desire to allow you to enjoy your mom or dad even if you see it less now . Let him call you by phone, write messages, draw him, visit him at work, etc. Likewise, we agree that the other person participates in the school activities of the child. Priority must be given to the well-being of the child over the possible quarrels between parents.
8. Facing the absence of one of the parents
The reasons why adults divorce and the feelings that this entails, in most cases are not valid enough for children to understand the absence of one of the parents. That is to say, for them that person is extremely important and loved in their lives, above the mistakes that in their role of couple committed .
Consequently, we should try to keep the details and details of the separation as far as possible from the child, as well as the negative feelings that one or both of the spouses maintain against the other: anger, anger, disappointment, resentment, etc. Of course, we must avoid involving children in behaviors such as insults, recrimination, revenge, reproaches and victimization.
9. To seek our psychological support and not to hold the child responsible
Separation and divorce processes may require support from family, friends and even professionals , but remember that your child should not take on that task. As adults, we must seek our own help if we consider it necessary, unquestionably it is a moment that can be painful, and for this reason we must ensure the quality of life of the child, accommodating and helping him to face the new reality.