Going through a divorce can be immensely difficult for adults, but divorce takes a big toll on children as well. That is not to say that divorce is inherently a bad thing; divorce can be the best thing for a family in some situations. Some divorces create a high level of contention between the parents and when the parents are openly hostile and bitter to one another in front of their children, it can have a deep emotional impact on the children.
Children are very flexible, and are generally accepting of parents divorcing when the situation is clearly, calmly and lovingly explained to them. There may be instances of backlash or acting out, but for the most part children grow accepting of a divorce after getting through the initial changes that a divorce brings to the family dynamic. However, divorces that are highly conflicted, angry and bitter tend to upset and scare children. They even sometimes blame themselves for their parents' divorce.
Impacts Of A High-Conflict Divorce
Children who experience and witness a high level of conflict between their divorcing parents tend to be adversely affected by their situation at home. Repeated exposure to high-conflict situations in the home can make children become:
- Unfocused in school;
- Experimental with drugs or alcohol; and/or
- Involved with people who are bad influences.
Children Learn From Their Parents
The old adage “like parent, like child” is very true to fact. Children often model their behavior on what they see their parents do and learn about interactions with others by observing how their parents interact with one another.
What Can Divorcing Parents Do To Reduce And Avoid Conflict?
There are a number of things that parents can do to help control how much conflict their children are exposed to during a divorce. Below are several tips that can help protect your children.
- Avoid sharing your feelings about your spouse with your children. Children feel a sense of allegiance to their parents. By keeping your feelings about the other parent from your children, you are protecting them from feeling like they have to choose a side. Children love each of their parents, and they trust them, and it makes things very difficult for a child when one of their parents says disparaging things about the other. If you want to vent about your soon-to-be ex-spouse, reach out to a trusted friend, therapist or confidant, and tell them your feelings somewhere away from your children.
- Avoid blame. When parents place blame on one another for the failure of the marriage openly in front of their kids, it teaches children that the divorce is a result of one parent's unforgivable actions. While this could be true in some divorces (for example, divorce as the result of infidelity), most divorces are a culmination of problems that have built up between the spouses over time.
- Stay Positive. The whole divorce is difficult enough already with all the changes that are happening, and there is no need to be negative in front of your children. Instead, focus on the positive aspects of the divorce, such as how the parents will be happier, how you'll get to spend one-on-one time with your children, and the new opportunities that will be made available after the divorce (for example, if one of the parents moves to a new neighborhood, there is an opportunity to make new friends).
Contacting a Charleston Divorce Lawyer
Divorces that are riddled with contention can be challenging, and are best dealt with by getting through the divorce as quickly as possible. Contact the experienced Charleston divorce lawyers at Sarji Law Firm, LLC today. Please get in touch with us by calling 843-323-4341.