Some things that you can do to enhance a child's adjustment are the following
(1) Prior to the separation, it may be helpful for both parents to discuss the impending divorce at a level appropriate for the child;
(2) Be available to answer questions;
(3) Read age appropriate books on divorce with your child;
(4) Reassure the child divorce is not his or her fault;
(5) Let the child know that you will both continue to love him;
(6) Put child's needs first;
(7) Do not argue with other parent in front of child;
(8) Do not expect your child to meet your emotional needs;
(9) Be consistent in your parenting;
(10) Make visitations regular and predictable;
(11) Let the child know that you will tell other important people in case he or she would like to seek support from these people
(12) Do not be openly critical of other parent;
(13) Do not interrogate child about visits with other parent, and most importantly be sensitive to your child's emotional needs.
For further reading, please refer to:
Divorce: Helping your Child Adjust, C.
Given this startling figure, the presumption can be made that many children will experience some effects caused by the life-changing event called divorce.
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Even though this review has shown that children from divorced families are not overwhelming worse off psychologically, anyone who has a conversation with a child or young adult whose parents have divorced will tell you that these young people still seem to experience considerable distress about the breakup of their families and that these feelings linger. Some new work with these children indicates that while children may not be significantly impaired as a result of the divorce, they do carry painful memories. Laumann-Billings and Emery (2000) report that young adults in the early 20s who experienced the divorce of their parents still report pain and distress over their parents’ divorces ten years later. Feelings of loss about the relationship with their fathers was the most common report. Those young people who reported high conflict between their parents were even more likely to have feelings of loss and regret.
There is also some evidence that young adults whose parents divorce feel as if they had little control over their lives following divorce including the transitions between households. Less than 20% of children report that both of their parents talked to them about the impending divorce and only 5% say that their parents tried to explain why the divorce was occurring and were given a chance to ask questions (Dunn et al., 2001). Children report more positive feelings and less painful memories of household transitions when they were given some chance to voice their ideas about visiting or living arrangements (Dunn et al., 2001).
These continuing painful memories and feelings of helplessness help us to further understand the experience of children following divorce and provides some useful ideas about ways to reduce these painful situations.
The overall results of these studies suggest that while children from divorced families may, on average, experience more major psychological and behavioral problems than children in intact families, there are more similarities than differences. The most important question is not whether children from divorced families are having difficulties, but what particular factors cause these differences. Current evidence suggests that the loss of contact with parents, economic difficulties, stress, parental adjustment and competence, and interparental conflict all contribute at least to some degree to the difficulties of children. Some new findings shift our attention from major problems to milder but important long-term painful memories and feelings of helplessness. These feelings can continue well into young adulthood which reminds us that there are many things we can do to help children. These results provide significant implications to practitioners interested in designing interventions for children and adults in divorcing families.
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Preschooler are likely to become very distressed during visit exchanges.
Although children between the ages of about 6 to 8 continue to have fantasies about reconciling their parents, they are less likely to blame themselves for the divorce.
Read this essay on What Effect Does Divorce Have on Children?
How children are affected by divorce is a question of huge importance to your children and, of course, to you. Sadly, experts sometimes are confused about how divorce affects children, and they can offer parents conflicting advice. That's why I emphasize what research tells us in . I especially focus on what parents can do to promote their children's well-being in the face of the sometimes dramatic changes divorce introduces into children's lives.
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In summary, in thinking about the effects of divorce on children it is important to consider factors that facilitate the child's adjustment or makes them vulnerable to the negative effects of divorce.