Children of Different Ages Handle Divorce Differently

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Divorce signifies both an end to the marital relationship and a change in the parent-child relationship. In additional to dealing with their own feelings around the divorce, parents develop new concerns and fears about how their children are handling the divorce. While children’s response to divorce can vary widely, researchers have uncovered some common threads that highlight the needs of children at different ages. Regardless of age, don’t expect children to deal with the divorce overnight. The effects of divorce can last more than a couple years, but improve more quickly when parents continually reinforce that they love them and when they do their best to keep children out of parental conflict.

One of the most important factors influencing how young children, 0-3 adjust to divorce is parents ability to take care of themselves. When parents’ needs are met, they are better able to recognize and attend to the needs of their children. Children this age may express feelings of anxiety or sadness by complaining that they feel sick. This gives a parent a great opportunity to show the child that they will continue to take care of them. Children under the age of three may express fears of abandonment between visitations because they do not always have the developmental capacity to internalize memories of the nonresidential parent. Finding ways to have a consistent presence can help minimize these feelings.

Older children become more aware of their emotions and the emotions of those around them. Remember, children will have many feelings about the divorce and these feelings will change as they grow and gain a greater understanding of what divorce means in their family. Reaffirm that the divorce is an adult decision to live apart and avoid anything that may make children feel blamed. It is also important to limit conflict and never put children in a position where they have to choose between their parents. Children need affirmation that their relationship with each parent is not lost, just different. Help children feel supported, create a space for them to talk, and listen when they express the need to talk.

Adolescents become more aware of issues surrounding the divorce as they become more and more capable of understanding complex issues. As a result, teens may be more likely to ask questions and express a desire to take part in grown-up discussions. While it is normal for adolescents to push you away, they also want to pull you closer. Keep talking with your teens as they continue testing if you really care.

We have a strong commitment to excellence in technology and an even stronger commitment to our families. We have experienced first-hand the pain of being separated from loved ones, from divorce, business travel and from parents or grandparents in other parts of the country or even other parts of the world.

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Shelly D. Mahon, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Human Development and Family Studies. Ms Mahon is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Email: shelly@shellydmahon.com

© 2009/2010 Shelly D. Mahon

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Shelly_D._Mahon

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Author: Shelly D Mahon

I have been working with families and teens for almost 20 years, and teaching in a university setting since the year 2000. My commitment is that parents have the support and resources they need to take care of themselves and foster the growth and development of their children. ABOUT ME I have a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) and over 20 years of experience working with youth and families. No matter what your family structure, I am committed to helping you make your family work. I can guid you in effectively managing divorce, strengthening parent-child relationships, embracing the teenage years, reducing risks and increasing resiliency in your families. If fostering the growth and development of your children is important to you, I am committed to working with you. APART, NOT BROKEN: LEARN, CONNECT, & CREATE! Apart, Not Broken is for divorced or separated parents who want to: Move past fear, pain, & guilt Create the life they want with their child Manage their relationship with their ex Contribute to others Be the creator of their future The program gives you a place to: Learn: Hear others real experiences and insights. Receive information and recommendations that can make a measurable difference in adjusting and parenting after separation or divorce. Connect: Join an online community. Learn to use creative strategies to connect with your child and manage your relationship with their ex-partner. Create: Feel powerful in your ability to be the parent YOU want to be. Create the relationship YOU want with their child by building on existing strengths, starting new traditions, and creating lasting memories. This program has: – Videos reflecting real life experiences; – Online tools for sharing photos, comparing calendars, communicating, and more; – Current & concise information about divorce & parenting after divorce; – Engaging activities to enjoy with their child; & – Additional resources to build their own parenting toolbox. Happy Parenting, Shelly I took my first Human Development and Family Studies course as an undergraduate at 18 years old. This was the beginning of a lifetime love and commitment to this field. I have another online program Parenting Through Middle School. I am the mother of two teens myself. This has been an interesting journey and quite the adventure. Over the years, I have learned that parenting takes a lot of energy, but it is well worth the effort. To me, parenting brings to life an ever-changing spectrum of human emotion. It is filled with moments of love, excitement, anticipation, expectations, fears, hopes, and dreams. It has made me laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time! Just when I think I have everything figured out, my children change. In these moments I realize that I too must change. As they grow, I find myself looking for the balance between teaching them my values, beliefs, and interests and helping them discover and develop into their own unique individual characters. I love to exercise, eat well, sing and play my piano. My favorite sports are running, mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing, snowboarding, yoga, Pilates, and most recently, road biking. Happy Parenting! Shelly

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