Law Offices of Meridith A. Gregory, LLC

How your child may react to your divorce—and what to do about it

With all the headache of figuring out how your life will change in your divorce, it may be easy to forget that it affects other lives too. Your child is going through a lot of change as well.

If you don’t consider how your decisions impact your entire family, it could make the experience harder on them. You should know what behaviors commonly occur in children of divorce so that you can help your child avoid them.

Issues can manifest in a number of ways

One of the most challenging parts about helping your child through your divorce is that their behavior may be hard to predict. You might not be able to anticipate their reactions—but you should be prepared for some common troubles:

  • Academic issues—divorce increases the odds of learning disabilities and social isolation, and lowers the likelihood of children graduating from high school
  • Psychological effects—post-traumatic stress disorder can cause depression and anxiety
  • Behavioral problems—children of divorce may have trouble with confidence and forming close relationships
  • Substance abuse—some children turn to drugs, alcohol and other destructive behaviors to deal with their feelings

Many other factors affect what happens—such as your child’s age and personality. Once these problems start occurring, it may be hard to fix them. Instead, you should try to make things easier for your child from the start.

You can help your child cope in healthy ways

When you tell your child about your divorce, you can start helping them to process their emotions. Make sure that you:

  • Encourage your child to be open about their feelings—don’t let them bottle things up
  • Take whatever your child feels or wants seriously—even if they are being unrealistic
  • Don’t blame the other parent and poison their relationship with your child
  • Empower your child to be strong and remember that you love them
  • Create a parenting plan that is good for maintaining your child’s relationship with both you and your ex

Being there to support your child is the best thing for them throughout all of this change. You can help them understand what is happening and steer them away from the problems that may arise. You might not be able to completely take away your child’s negative feelings—but you can be there to deal with them so that everyone is happier down the road.

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