Getting divorced means big changes for everyone in the family, and one of the biggest concerns parents have is how their divorce will affect the kids. Much of the effect on children in a divorce depends on how the parents handle the situation. In order to help everyone involved, Cleveland County requires that parents with minor children complete a four-hour course at the Center for Children and Families, to help them proceed in a healthy way.
For all ages, maintaining as much consistency as possible is helpful in assuring a smoother transition. Children thrive on routine, whether they are infants, toddlers, preschoolers, early elementary age, late elementary age, or teens. They are comforted by knowing what to expect.
By seeking out a family law firm in Cleveland, Ohio, early in the process, parents are often able to provide this consistency much sooner. Even when a couple is still in the separation stage of the divorce, a divorce attorney can help them develop a schedule that will allow them to keep a consistent routine for the kids.
As much as possible, consult with one another on things like bedtimes, and other rituals to help keep as much continuity in the child’s life as possible.
In many cases, children blame themselves for their parents’ divorce and may even attempt to try and bring their parents back together. It is important that parents limit the amount of responsibility the kids take on when they break up, by firmly taking on a shared responsibility themselves. Children need to know that the divorce is not their fault.
They can also be reassured that getting divorced is not an entirely bad thing. When a household is filled with tension, anger, and fighting, it is a toxic environment for everyone. Even infants can feel this. One parent often takes on most of the caretaking responsibilities, and the other may try to be anywhere but home.
After the parents separate, each parent has clearly defined time with the children. It is important that each parent make this time “quality time” where they listen to the children’s concerns. They should convey that breaking up is a mutual decision, and urge the children to not choose sides in the divorce.
The good news is as parents spend more one on one time with their kids, they often become better parents than they were when they were together.
Regressing or Breaking Away
In many cases, children will either regress and express increased dependence on their parents during the divorce process, or they may break away and try and be more independent than ever.
Babies and toddlers often become more clingy, as they respond to a fear of being abandoned. Some may regress developmentally, resisting things like toilet training, or resort to things such as thumb sucking. School-aged kids may become withdrawn or depressed or may get into more fights than before.
Teens often delve further into their responsibilities, especially outside the home. They might take on more hours at a part-time job or involve themselves in school projects in order to take care of themselves if they feel that their parents aren’t up to the task.
Parents need to be patient, and let their kids know that although some things have changed in how they take care of them, they are still committed to doing just that. When words and actions both convey that message, children will eventually believe it.
Setting an Example
The main reason why a person seeks out a divorce attorney in the first place is that they are unhappy in their marriage, and they want a chance at a more fulfilling life. While many children see this as a selfish act, in the beginning, they often grow up to realize that it is necessary.
It is hard for children to be truly happy when they are living with two unhappy parents. While some try to “stay together for the kids,” think of how you would feel in 20 years if you had to witness your child, unhappy in their own marriage. Would you want them to stay unhappy, or would you want them to find something better?
If you’ve been considering a divorce, or have been served with a summons, making sure your kids handle the process is a top priority. Laubacher & Co. is a family law firm committed to helping you find the best solutions for your family. Contact us to schedule a consultation.