Considering children reacting to divorce
Giving children the freedom to cope in their own way is important to their mental health. Not knowing what life is going to be like after the divorce can challenge everyone.
Among parents’ top concerns during divorce and family law cases are how children respond to significant changes in the family. In the past few decades more attention has focused on best efforts in co-parenting and raising children in families facing divorce. While there are basic guidelines for parents in divorce, good judgment is important. Taking it day by day is a good plan. Being prepared to respond to children’s questions includes acknowledging their age and maturity. Remember, there is no race to perfection when a family is going through divorce and reorganization.
The following considerations may be helpful in addressing children during divorce:
Many courts use standing orders in divorce cases. The standing orders are a list of things people shall and shall not do during the divorce. In Dallas County, the standard orders specifically prohibit disruption of children. Parties in divorce may not disrupt the peace of the children and may not make disparaging remarks regarding the other party in the presence or within the hearing of the children.
Many attorneys and their clients agree that it is a good idea to avoid saying anything about the divorce or the other party when the children may hear. It may be a good idea to keep any information about the divorce from the children, keeping them on a need to know basis. You can restrict “adult” information from children without being cryptic if you simply explain that you are not going to talk about the divorce with them. Some parents say, “I’ll tell you someday, but right now, you don’t need to worry about it.”
Age and Maturity
During divorce, children may have all kinds of questions and concerns. Uncertainty about the future can be terrifying. Not knowing what life is going to be like after the divorce can challenge everyone. Despite the anxiety of major changes in life, it is important that parents are reassuring and make sure the children know they will be okay, and that the divorce is their fault.
Children might ask a million questions if you let them. The more questions you answer, the further children may inquire. Be cautious in answering too many questions because children may lack the age and maturity to properly analyze answers to their questions. Children do not have the life experience to handle the range of emotions in divorce. The less they know, the better.
Giving Them Space
It may be normal for children to appear distant and aloof during a divorce. A child may appear rebellious, and may say everything is fine. While younger children can be more reliant on their relationships with parents, older children may be upset and act as if they want nothing to do with the family or the divorce. This may be a coping mechanism and they may otherwise stick closely with friends and people outside the family, for comfort.
Giving children the freedom to cope in their own way is important to their mental health. The child who says they are fine and not worried about the divorce, may otherwise talk about it frequently with their close friends. It is natural to want to prove to children that life will continue and they will feel happy and safe. It takes patience, and time for children to know and trust that a divorce is not the end of their world.
A good children’s therapist focused on families in stages of divorce can be a significant asset. Telling your children, they are going to go see someone, can be a challenge. Letting the children know they are perfectly fine and normal is important. Most children will appreciate being able to talk to a neutral third party to whom they can say anything without parents knowing how they feel and are reacting to the divorce.
A major benefit of seeing a therapist is child knowing that they are not their parents, and just because their parents are divorcing, there is no reason to worry about growing up and having divorce or instability in their future. The introduction of positive mental health and therapists at a young age can open the door to a child’s appreciation of mental health. As they grow older, children and may seek out mental health professionals on their own as adults.
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Mark Scroggins, along with their team at
Scroggins Law Group represent clients in a variety of divorce and family law matters including the best interests of children.
At Scroggins Law Group, our Dallas, Denton and Collin County divorce attorneys have more than over 24 years of collective experience with family law cases. When you retain our firm, you can trust that your case is in the hands of a highly skilled, dedicated professional. we understand the unique challenges of a high value divorce case, and more importantly, have the knowledge and experience you need on your side. Call us today, (214) 469-3100, to learn more about Texas divorce and family law.
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