Child Reactions To Divorce
The feelings children have are similar to the grieving adults experienced during a tragedy. They suffer loss of self-esteem, a feeling of irresponsibility for the divorce, and other frightening emotions with a growing intensity.
Feelings of Abandonment and Isolation
The fear of abandonment often manifests itself as loneliness. This fear, strongest among younger children, is quiet literal. They feel they will be left to fend for themselves after all if one parent walked out, what's to keep the other from doing the same? Some recently divorced mothers even report that whenever they come home just ten minutes late from work, they find their children hysterical.
Confusion and Disorientation
Children's lives revolve around their family, it is all they have ever known. To hear from Mom and Dad that they will no longer be living together is more than a child can comprehend.
The most common problem for children of divorce is an inability to understand what in the world has just happened to them. In their resourcefulness and intelligence they arrive at a number of conclusions, many unfortunately are wrong in an effort to simply find answers and just try to cope up.
Divorce usually means experiencing grief and emotional trauma much sooner than most children would have. It shatters the safe, secure fantasy world of childhood and children are suddenly forced to replace a parent's missing partner and provide companionship for someone much older than themselves.
Divorce imposes worries and responsibilities on children that are far beyond their age.
No matter what other reactions children may demonstrate toward their parents' break-up, a deep sorrow is always present. Sadness and despair can dominate their lives.
One of the best things parents can do for their children is allowing them to express grief. Prolonged crying can actually help the child move through the adjustment period after divorce.
It is important for all of us to know that we do not have to be sad all the time or carry our grief around forever. We will always keep our memories. The sadness for what we have lost will always be available if we need to feel it again.
Torn Between Two Parents
Remarks by the child become a battlefield for parents. Kids soon learn that they can no longer share things with Mom or Dad. They just get bounced back and forth between warring parents, and everyone ends up in trouble.
Some of the events included:
- When one parent says bad things about other.
- When one parent asks the child questions about the other parent's private life.
- When one parent tells the child not to tell some things to the other parent.