Divorce and Children Print
News Releases - General Info
Written by Joy Venhorst   
Monday, 18 July 2011 13:07

Children’s Adjustment
Divorce and events related to divorce, including mari­tal conflict and separation, are almost always very stress­ful events in the life of a child. In the months after the separation, most children will show signs of one or more of the following: anxiety, sadness, anger, aggression, un­cooperative behavior, not sleeping well, and disrupted concentration at school. The length of this initial period of distress varies from child to child. For most children, the distress is short-term, and they learn to adapt with reasonable success.

What Parents Can Do
Whatever the family structure, children will still need a loving, nurturing, stable, economically secure environ­ment for their optimal growth and development. The fol­lowing are ways parents can provide this environment.

Decrease Conflict
Because conflict between parents after divorce makes adjustment more difficult for children, work on ways to decrease conflict and keep children out of it. Children need custody and access arrangements that minimize the potential for ongoing conflict between parents.

Provide a Good Relationship
A good parent–child relationship is the best predictor of good outcomes in children. If you are the parent who has moved out, make sure to stay in consistent contact with your children. You do not always have to plan fun activities when you are with your children—just spending time with them can be enough.

Provide Stability
Providing routines and consistency for children helps them feel more secure. If they have to go through a lot of changes, such as a new home or school, try to establish new routines quickly.

Be Loving
Let your children know that you love them. Their reac­tions to divorce may lead to changes in behavior or mis­behavior. They need to know that you still love them, even though you may not approve of their behavior. Preschool­ers may blame themselves for the divorce. For example, they may think, “Daddy left because I was bad.”

Take Time to Talk
Children need to know that their feelings and concerns are taken seriously. Parents need to let children express how they are feeling and what is going on in their thoughts. Lis­ten without cutting them off with statements like, “Don’t feel sad,” or, “You shouldn’t be mad.” Acknowledge their feelings and discuss appropriate ways to deal with them.

J. Eileene Welker and Sarah Michelle Moore, Ohio State University, phone: 800-589-8292
Or Kara Newby, Ohio State University Extension phone: (614) 688-0855

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