How Divorces Hurt Kids

Are you wondering how divorces hurt kids? If you're considering divorcing or have recently divorced, you will want to take steps to protect your children as much as you can from the trauma of divorce. Children are often confused and hurt when the marriage dissolves, leaving them wondering who they can turn to and who can be trusted. It's common for children to blame themselves for the break up of the marriage, causing them much pain and guilt. If you're having trouble handling your divorce, seek divorce support so you can be strong enough to make good decisions for your children.

Guilt
Children-even teenagers-often blame themselves for the dissolution of the marriage. You can lessen this tendency by explaining repeatedly that the break up of the marriage had nothing to do with your child. You may need to say right out that it is not his or her fault and there is nothing your child could have done differently to keep the marriage together. If your child is overcompensating with extremely good behavior out of fear of losing your love, you may want to assure your child that his behavior has nothing to do with the divorce. Enroll your child in counseling if at possible so he will have a safe place to talk about his guilt.

Fear
Many children of divorce-especially teenaged girls-fear they will not be able to have a lifelong relationship that succeed. Because they fear love is not lasting and relationships are doomed, they may be tempted to give too much of themselves, especially sexually, in order to secure love. They may also have trouble being emotionally available to partners. To reduce this chance, explain the specifics of why your marriage failed so your child will understand that not all relationships fail and not all relationships are doomed. Your child needs to realize she can build lasting relationships. Make sure your explanations are age-appropriate, and initiate open discussions as your child matures about the ins and outs of relationships.

Instability
If your child is now going back and forth between two homes, he may feel as if he can never totally let his hair down because he always has to be on his best behavior. This constant stress can lead to rebellion or overachieving, neither of which is healthy. Make sure you relax and allow things to be as normal as can be. If your child feels he has to act like he is high on life every time he's with you, he'll resent you for no down time. If he feels he never knows how much time he's going to get with you, this stress will also create an unhealthy anger. Do your best to keep schedules consistent and time together stress-free.

Feeling Disloyal
Children of divorce often feel like they have to choose between parents, especially if they are trying to decide who is to blame for the divorce. Make it clear that the divorce was between the two adults and is now consensual, allowing your child to love both parents equally, even if you are furious that your spouse ended the marriage. Your child needs the freedom to love both of you equally and be loved by both of you in return. Speak positively about your spouse and encourage her to spend time with each of you as much as possible.

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