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Research has proven that divorce can be a very traumatic time in a child’s life, no matter their age. Different age ranges can produce varying ramifications and for the parents, it is imperative to continually monitor and minimize the level of emotional turmoil experienced by their children. What are the top 10 issues facing a child experiencing his or her parent's divorce?
1. This is Not Your Child’s Divorce
As adults, the separating spouses should respect that even with one parent out of the picture, the child views the situation as that is my mother and that is my father. This dynamic should be respected, accepted and addressed.
2. One of the Same
When experiencing a divorce, gender identification as daughters swear solidarity with their mother or sons standing tall besides their fathers is to be expected. To avoid stalling a child’s growth parents must remain mindful not to play the blame game or degrade the absent parent.
3. Secret Gender Identification
In the event a new woman or man is introduced into the child’s life, it may be possible that daughters will secretly identify with the “other woman” to remain the apple of Dad’s eye while a son may also do the same with the “other man.” Although the child may try to disguise this awareness in fear of offending the affected biological parent, it is important to discuss these issues with the child.
4. Remain a Parent, Not a Best Friend
Often post divorce there is a gap to be filled. The family structure has changed and both parents may find themselves with extra time on their hands. It is dangerous to use the children to fill in these gaps. While children will accept this role willingly, becoming a parent’s best friend will dwarf the child’s own development.
5. A Chip Off the Old Block
Just as filling the gap is emotionally charged for a child, displaying personal traits of an absent parent can be just as dangerous. When a child is trying to maintain the old family dynamic by displaying this type of gap filling behavior, his or her own personal identity may become compromised.
6. Three’s a Crowd
Avoid creating a triangle or a situation that produces a third party go-between. Adults should deal with adult issues and children should not be dragged kicking and screaming into the mix. This is another example of bridging the gap and all family members should be reminded that strong one-on-one relationships are best for the post-divorce family.
7. Do Not Assume
Due to feelings of guilt, a parent may find themselves projecting their own emotional baggage onto their children. Children learn from example and when one parent assumes that his or her child must also be feeling the same emotions of anger, abandonment or hurt, the continual project of these negative implications may reverse how the child was managing through the divorce.
8. Avoid the Guilt Trip
Divorce happens to good people and it certainly does not give either parent the green light and open expressway to shower the child with expensive gifts nor does it mean the parenting style of each parent should change. Keep it simple and continue to raise your child with the same values and conviction as before the divorce.
9. Yours, Mine, Ours
As children grow so do their relationships. Each parent must accept that perhaps the child will opt to spend more time with an absent parent or refuse to visit during specified child visitation. This type of behavior usually accelerates during adolescence, and although very painful for the parent, the child is seeking a type of reality check as well as pursuing their personal development.
10. Loosen the Reins
As children seek personal independence the waters may become a bit murky. By keeping the lines of communication open and loosening the reins of control little by little, your child will still honor your values by will also emerge with a set of his or her individual value system.
Divorce can be challenging for both adults and children. Navigating possible emotional mishaps can be expected but when it comes to divorce and the legal system, no adult should experience a legal misstep. For over 35 years, the skilled and experienced Hinsdale divorce attorneys of Martoccio & Martoccio have assisted clients throughout DuPage, Cook, Kane, Kendall and Will Counties. If you are currently considering divorce and reside in these areas, contact our offices today at 630-920-8855 to schedule a no-cost initial consultation.
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