More than half of all marriages end in divorce. Children of divorcing parents always are strongly impacted. Confusion, anxiety, helplessness, hurt and frustration are experienced by the children when their parents dissolve the marriage.
More than half of all marriages end in divorce. Children of divorcing parents always are strongly impacted. Confusion, anxiety, helplessness, hurt and frustration are experienced by the children when their parents dissolve the marriage.Children of divorcing parents are thrust into the middle of an economic and emotional roller coaster over which they have no control. The dramatic changes created by divorce increase the stress level of both children and parents.Colorado State University offers these tips for divorcing parents who want to minimize the negative effects on their children:• Acceptance of the child.• Reassure them of their safety and security.• Free them from guilt or blame for the divorce. Assure them divorce is a parental decision and they are not the cause(s) of the divorce.• Provide structure and routine. It stabilizes their environment.• Provide age-appropriate, honest answers and explanations to their questions about the divorce.• Never depend on your child to address your emotional needs. Look to other adults for that.• Both parents need to provide continual support and love to the child in order to deter feelings of rejection or abandonment. This can be achieved by continuous contact via phone, visits, letters, etc.• Avoid attacking the character of the other parent in any way. Allow the child to love both parents without restriction.• Maintain communication between you and your ex spouse. Never use the child to communicate between parents.• Maintain a consistent schedule for child care. It minimizes changes in the child’s daily routine.• Never use the child as a weapon in any conflict between parents. Shield the child from parental arguments and conflicts. Never sabotage your child’s relationship to the other parent.• Preserve and nurture the child’s relationship with his or her extended family members on both sides of the family.• Don’t burden the child with situations over which they have to control. Never ask them to handle adult issues.• Both parents’ goal should be to meet the individual needs of the child and minimize the price she or he has to pay for the dissolution of the spousal relationship.• Keep in mind a child would prefer to be from a broken home than live in a dysfunctional one.• Never transfer your hurt or guilty feelings toward your spouse onto your child. Don’t overindulge or over-control your child because of your own guilt about the divorce.You have a high calling to nurture, protect and prepare your children for life, despite your divorce and all the emotions surrounding it. If this requires professional help, remember it is available.Susan M. Jackson is the Harvey County Extension agent, family and community development and consumer sciences.