How can parents tell when their children are not dealing with divorce? Their behavior is the best indicator. Sometimes, divorce is more than the end of marriage. If children are involved, it is the end of family life as they’ve known it and the start of a new version. Even if the new version is ultimately an improvement for everyone, it’s a big change and change can be scary.
When it comes to children and divorce, many parents wonder what they can do to make the transition in family life easier. It is important that parents be ready to offer their kids plenty of support and reassurance. They should also be on the lookout for signs that they are struggling to cope. Parents should watch for:
When under pressure, people of all ages sometimes react with anger. For children, this can mean arguing or acting out becomes more of an issue at home, at school or with their friends. While the arguments and the behaviors may not be linked directly to the divorce, the stress of the situation is often the hidden trigger.
Children of divorced parents who are struggling to cope with their new family situation may not have the resources to deal with other disappointments. Where some kids get angry, others react with sadness. They may seem depressed or cry over things that usually would not disturb them. Sometimes a little extra reassurance is all it takes.
Childhood should be a carefree time, but stress is known to be one of the possible effects of divorce on children. A child may react with worry or fear, clinging to their parents and expressing concern that something might happen to them. Divorce can be quite confusing to children, and they might not understand that one parent will not just disappear.
Withdrawal is another typical response. Children who react this way tend to forgo activities they once enjoyed, avoid family and friends, and retreat into their rooms for solitude. Encourage children to stay active with friends and activities.
5. Slipping grades.
Distractions and upheavals at home can lead to declining school performance. Sadly, poor grades can be an additional stressor that makes things more difficult for children. If you notice that your child is struggling at school, reach out to the school staff for assistance. They might be able to offer support or suggestions to get your child back on track.
Many of these emotional reactions are normal during a divorce. Parents should pay attention to their severity. A brief period of minor sadness or misbehavior may only signal that a child needs a little extra reassurance as they adjust to the new norm, but if the behavior continues for an extended period, parents might need to seek professional assistance. If a child exhibits extreme anxiety, severe depression or violent behavior, parents should reach out for help without delay. Other red flags that should lead parents to seek immediate assistance include drug or alcohol abuse, forms of self-injury like cutting, and eating disorders. As unfortunate as these behavioral issues are, they do happen. By being acutely aware of your child’s change in behavior, there is a possibility to either help or deter any of these behavioral problems.
A divorce with kids presents unique challenges that impact the entire family. With more than 25 years of experience in the areas of divorce and family law, attorney Eric C. Cheshire combines compassion, integrity, and expertise in his unswerving effort to provide every client with the best possible service. If you are struggling with legal issues related to a divorce or child custody matter, contact us today at (561) 677-8090 to schedule a consultation.