Every 13 seconds there’s a divorce in America.
According to the family law firm Wilkinson & Finkbeiner, the irony in this frequency is that while one couple is reciting their vows during the happy occasion (which takes approximately two minutes), somewhere 9 couples are getting divorced.
We all know the tragedy that divorce is. But this is not only the tragedy of two people who lost their love. This is also the tragedy of incredible selfishness.
Because while you and your ex-partner pity yourselves, you’re forgetting another affected party.
We’re not saying that all parents are selfish like that. However, the statistics show that children of divorced parents suffer a lot more, even though you may not notice that.
According to Very Well Family:
- Children, whose parents are divorced, are more likely to have injuries and diseases like asthma. Besides, they’re more likely to experience developmental defects like speech impediments and are more likely to develop acquired health issues.
- Children of divorced parents are also more likely to have emotional stability problems and mental health issues. Kids from broken homes are also more likely to attempt suicide.
- Kids of divorced parents are likely to drop out of school and have problems with academic performance.
These are not just statements. These are facts.
As a child of a broken home, whose parents went along rebuilding their personal lives without taking my wants and needs into consideration, I became a living example that can validate these statistics.
And, as the years went by, I realized what I would want my parents to do to save me from the stress during the divorce.
These are 3 lessons, which, as a child of divorce, I want every parent to know.
1. Discuss Co-Parenting Rules Right Away
In my experience, I’ve seen many angry mothers taking custody over children after the divorce, vowing to never allow the children to see their fathers.
Here’s my note on this.
Whatever your intentions are, your child will seek out their father anyway when they grow up. So, to avoid arguments and scandals, discuss how you’re going to co-parent right away.
How can co-parenting help save a child from stress during the divorce?
- Children learn that even though this situation is sad and painful, there’s still a chance to create something good out of it rather than live with this sadness.
- Co-parenting requires both parents to treat each other with respect. This positively affects a child’s self-esteem.
- Co-parenting allows keeping the atmosphere of support and comfort in the family, which positively affects a child’s emotional and mental health.
Co-parenting comes with a set of Dos and Don’ts. Psychologist Deborah Serani in her article about co-parenting rules says that parents should discuss co-parenting with their child but not burden them. The ultimate idea is to preserve respect towards both parents and save the atmosphere of trust and support for the sake of a child’s mental and physical health.
2. Don’t Make Promises
I was grown-up enough to remember my father promising me to never leave me. But then I already knew that he was going to marry another woman, who he had been seeing for at least a year.
My father made a false promise. And, as an adult, I’m convinced that this (and other) false promise resulted in trust issues.
I’m not the only one who experienced it. “8 out of 10 children of divorced parents would have trust issues in the adult life if their parents betrayed their trust”, says Claire Atkinson, a researcher at Flatfy.
What’s the result of this false promise?
My father never kept it. I was left to my own devices and saw my father occasionally, sometimes just once a year.
What’s the lesson?
Think twice before promising your child anything, whether it’s a new Nintendo for Christmas or never leaving your kid.
Children from broken homes have a very sensitive psyche, and the younger they are, the more they will be likely to take everything at face value. The result of it is emotional health problems, stress, and, in the long run, trust issues.
3. Use Therapy to Prevent Stress During the Divorce
It’s not just the trust issues that a child of divorced parents can face as an adult.
Children from broken homes often seek validation due to low self-esteem, and, as a result, love their partners differently, sometimes being cynical about their feelings or expect too much from their loved ones.
If you and your partner feel incapable of putting your issues aside for the sake of your child, try taking your child to therapy.
However, sending your child to therapy alone will create even more stress. The younger is your child, the more difficult it would be for them to open up. Even teenagers may feel defensive when talking to a therapist.
For the sake of saving your child from stress during the divorce, join them in therapy sessions and show that opening up about your feelings can help let go of this stress and concentrate on working on finding the solution.
Remember That Your Child Loves You Both Unconditionally.
Everyone deals with the consequences of divorce in their own way. But while parents are grown-up enough to deal with the stress, children don’t often have the necessary coping mechanisms.
Make your child feel that they are not alone in this. Comfort and support them. It won’t guarantee that they won’t experience stress, but the effects of it will not be so severe.
Ryan is a passionate writer who likes sharing his thoughts and experience with the readers. Currently, he works at Flatfy. He likes everything related to self-improvement, traveling and seeing new countries.