Children in Divorce
In Georgia, divorces involving children will require both parents to complete a court approved parenting course. The bottom line to the course is to not undermine the other parent, do not demean the other parent verbally or otherwise, and do not place your children in awkward positions such as “choosing sides”, “spying and reporting to you”, or lying about events, words or actions during their time with you.
The disposition and behavior of children going through divorce will have a pronounced effect on both parents. The words and actions of the divorcing parents are the greatest contributors to how well children deal with divorce.
Children rarely “choose sides”, and want to remain close to both parents. In a time when so much is unpredictable, unstable and fragile, children enjoy the security of feeling connected to both parents. They fear loss and alienation. The reassurance of parents can keep this under control.
Divorce, especially with one or both parents acting out, can cause children to act aggressively, overly defiant, disrespectful and anti-social. All of these are signs of internalized anger generated by the feelings created by experiencing their family’s destruction. While these behaviors are unacceptable, a parent who provides a stable and loving touch will usually see their children return to their “normal” personality.
Children going through divorce may have a need to confide in a family counselor, close friend or confidant. It is a good idea to offer for your children to receive professional counseling individually and as a family. Children will definitely have fears, worries, anxiety and thoughts that they need to express and discuss with a neutral person. The sooner that children have their fears resolved, the sooner their behavior returns to normal.
Parents who change their behaviors, such as partying, being promiscuous or otherwise being irresponsible will cause problems in their children. Whether children react in defiance, show similar behaviors now deemed acceptable, or they become caretakers, irresponsible parents harm their children.
When children are going through a divorce there are feelings of loss and separation. As children are enduring the divorce process it is not a good time to introduce your new boyfriend or girlfriend, or speak openly of interests or attractions to other people. Regardless of your thoughts, children often see this as a sign of disrespect to their other parent, and sometimes feel in competition with the new person at a time when they need your love and attention.
Children going through a divorce process need their parents. Every parent needs to take deliberate measures to reassure their children that both parents love them and will always provide support for them. Parents should take time to listen to their children’s thoughts about the divorce, not interject their own biased opinions, and always think first about what is best for the their children. Children want civility, structure and responsible parenting.