Family Change and Divorce

When a family is going through a divorce, it is important to pay attention to changes in your child/children’s behavior. Divorce is a very stressful time for everyone in a family. Sometimes behavior changes in a child during divorce indicate poor adjustment to the divorce.

Red Flags that Divorce May be Negatively Impacting Your Child

Here is a list of behaviors to watch out for in your child when going through a divorce:

  • Feelings of conflict between loyalties towards either parent.
  • Increase in depression or anxiety (For example: low self-worth, lack of confidence, social withdrawal, loss of interest in pleasurable activities)/anxiety, more acting out behaviors, poor school performance)
  • Physical complaints such as stomachaches or headaches
  • Feeling guilty or responsible for divorce
  • Taking the role of caretaker for parents or other siblings
  • A child who knows adult information about the divorce (e.g. legal proceedings, money, parents gripes about the other parent)
  • Persistent fear or worry about being abandoned or separated from a parent

If you are noticing some of these behavior changes, you may want to look into family counseling to support you and your child through a healthy transition.

If you are a parent going through a divorce, you know this is one of the most difficult transitions you and your family may ever face. Going through a divorce can be difficult and painful. Dealing with your own feelings of your divorce in addition to those of your child can add a lot of stress.

One of the most important things you want to do in a divorce is to be a positive role model and loving parent to your child.

Tips to Help Your Child Through Divorce
  • Focus on spending positive, quality time with your child. Make sure they know you are there for them.
  • Don’t talk bad about the other parent. Let them be a kid and don’t talk to them about your grown up problems. It is important to not put your child in the middle of any stress or conflict between yourself and the other parent.
  • Remember, your children love both of their parents. By talking bad about the other parent you are essentially telling your child part of them is bad. This can have a very negative impact on your child’s self esteem.
  • Talk to your child. Make sure to talk to them about their feelings and offer to answer any questions they may have. And remember, sometimes it is best to provide more generic answers (i.e. instead of “Your Mom just doesn’t love me anymore”, you can say “Mom and Dad just don’t make each other happy anymore but we both still love you very much”).
  • If you need to talk about your feelings and frustrations, talk with another adult or a counselor. Don’t put your children in a position of feeling they need to take care of you.
  • Follow through with what you say you will do. If you say you will go to the big game, GO! Don’t avoid important events because of the other parent.
  • Don’t fight in front of the children. If you have a conflict deal with it away from your children (both out of sight and hearing).

Stay conscious of how you are with your children and what you say to them. If you make a mistake, apologize to your child and take responsibility to not let anger, hurt or frustration with the other parent cause you to impact your time with your child or children.

If you integrate the tips above it will pay off in your relationship with your ex-spouse and your child. If you are struggling to apply the above tips, counseling can help you learn how to co-parent collaboratively with your ex.

For more information on our counseling services and scheduling, please contact us to schedule today.

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