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Children - The victims of divorce

Children of Divorce
Children of Divorce | ©: VRD - Fotolia

This is one of the worst and most difficult situations for many children. Your parents are losing their connection and just have nothing to say to each other anymore. When, after all is said and done, mutual love leaves as well, especially children are in for a very difficult time. While it is not all that dramatic for adult children, for teenagers and young children a divorce can have a huge impact on their lives. It’s not just the sudden breakup of the family they have to consider but the decisions that follow. In some circumstances, children even have to choose whether to stay with mum or dad.

This is a dilemma of great magnitude for many children. How are they supposed to decide? After all, they do love mum and dad. But now they have to decide on a preference. Even if the parents decide which parent the child is to live, the situation is far from good. The child might ask himself, why doesn’t mum or dad want me to stay with them? No matter what happens. A divorce is in most cases neither fair nor equitable for the child. However, it is true, that parents must take this step unless they want to live a lie for the rest of their lives and stay unhappy. What kind of a role model would that be to the children?

The main factors

Finally, the parents are separated, and the children live only with one parent. The other parent they see only occasionally, during the weekend or maybe only at weekends. Sometimes just once a month or even less frequently. This can have a major impact on the child and his future life. It is hard to determine what those consequences are because this depends on many factors. In any case, decisive is the age in combination with the current situation. A divorce at an early age can just as much have a negiative impact on the child as in the middle of puberty. It is difficult or even impossible to find the right time, but it is helpful if the divorce takes place in an as gentle as possible way for the children involved.

One of the most important things in this context is how the parents deal with this exceptional situation. This will characterize the child. Is the separation by mutual agreement? Do the parents talk badly behind each other’s back or are there in spite of the divorce still some activities left they could do together as a family. The condition of the child is an equally important factor. Is it confident and self-assured? Does he worry a lot of is very fearful? Putting the answers to all those questions together, it will give you a little overview on the resilience of the child and, therefore, how good or bad the separations will go down with the child. The best solution, of course, would be, to seek the advice from an expert. To sit together and work out a divorce process that is as easy as possible for the children.

An ideal divorce

All that can be said about an ideal divorce is that above all

  • In front of the children, the parents are supposed only to talk in favour of the other parent

  • That the child can see both parents as often as possible and

  • that the divorce does not take place during a difficult phase in the life of the child and that there are still joint family activities.

However, this image of a "nearly" perfect divorce exists only in the rarest of cases. Most often the child is lucky if one or two of the above factors still apply. Most often than not, however, divorces end a disaster, which is unacceptable for children. It must be said though that in most cases creating a disaster is not the intention of the divorcing parents. They are human too - in an extremely difficult situation.

For the parents, it would be advisable to get as good as possible informed about the impact of a divorce on children and subsequently put measurements into place to counteract those negative impacts. For example, despite the muddled situation ensure a stable home with its normal reliable routine. It is equally important to respond to the child’s emotions before, during and after the divorce. During the divorce process, you have to stay strong for the children. It is undesirable for children to get caught in the crossfire. Once the children are in the firing line, the situation will only worsen.

The effects of a divorce

A divorce can, in a smaller of greater degree, affect a child’s whole life. There is an incredible number of new and scary situations coming their way. This might begin with disputes over visiting rights, a move into a new and unknown city and finally to a new partner for the parent. It weighs very heavily on children to have a new stepparent all of a sudden. After all, they might still hold on to the hope that their parents eventually will get together again. Add to the already said, a possible change of school, money problems, and many other potential problems. This is a lot to digest for a child of any age.

Children of Divorce
Children of Divorce | ©: drubig-photo - Fotolia

Many children might feel as if the world is closing in on them. All of a sudden they feel extremely insecure and vulnerable. Their previously seemingly perfect family breaks apart, which reflects in different reactions. If the children are still quite young, they are particularly anxious, maybe aggressive but also very clingy. For older children, the response to a divorce might be sudden problems at school or in social interactions with others. In the most severe cases, antisocial personality traits might come to light. Analyses of studies have shown that the subsequent reactions to a divorce disappear over two years. However, there still may long-term consequences lurking for the child, which will remain with them for their entire life.

Often the trust and faith of other people is severely shaken up. Particularly in young adults a divorce of the parents might generate doubts and concerns about their own relationships. Children of divorce are cautious with new relationships and are even more afraid to start a family. Regarding an American study, children of divorce only want children of their own at a time when their marriage is really strong. The same study showed that more than 25% of those children also seek psychotherapeutic treatment to resolve their relationship issues. As you can see, it is not so much a question of the direct consequences but it is the long-term effects that are so dangerous.

Conclusion - Support and a lot of caution

For all those above mentioned reasons, it is highly advisable for parents to seek help when going through a divorce to make this event as easy as possible for the children. Including joint family activities and, in front of the children, no discriminating words about the other parent. However, to provide them with a secure routine and continuum of their everyday life is equally important. Also, the feelings of the child must always be taken very seriously. Help and support should be enlisted at an early stage. At least once should the children have the possibility to talk to a psychologist or any other expert. Just to make sure that the situation is not overly dramatic. However, avoiding a divorce for the sake of the children after living together has become unbearable is not an option either. A divorce, however, should be very well planned and executed with as much as possible consideration.

Children of divorce in the youth group

Often we do not even realize when the children’s parents go through a divorce or are already divorced. Sometimes children want to hide this “family flaw”. At school, the teacher might recognize that something is going on because the all of a sudden and without any warning the child’s performance may drop. However, in the youth group a divorce in the family might go unnoticed. Maybe the youth group is also an opportunity for these children to experience, in a fun and "undemanding" situation, once again to be free and at ease. Sometimes it might also happen that children after their parents divorced, in longing of another contact person, seek out the youth worker for a trusted partner to or someone who could step in as a caregiver. This is certainly a challenge and requires a lot of empathy and intuition.

[ © | 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work ] - 2000 Games and Ideas for Youth Work
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