With all of the stress that seems to invade every aspect of our lives our children are not immune. In fact they seem to get more of it then they should. Between budding relationships, school children bullies, parental stress, school work, and jobs they have more on their small psychological plate than they can handle.
In the instance of stress management in children facing marital conflict they have all of the previously mentioned stressor and one more. There is no question that divorce is very hard for children. Unfortunately the children are at the mercy of the adults who may have an acrimonious split or a very equitable relationship. Sometimes the best thing that parents can do for their children in a divorce is to treat each other with respect.
There are some basic things that parents can do for good stress management in children facing marital conflict. Both parents should be available to their children just to listen. Don’t try to fix their problems – just listen. Give your children some reasonable explanations as to why you are divorcing without giving them information that they can’t handle. Be just yourself and reassure them the divorce isn’t their fault. Both parents should do their best not to fight in front of the children or tell your children about disagreements you and your spouse might be having.
You have a huge impact on the stress management in children facing marital conflict – just by not fighting in front of the children during and after the divorce you can have a positive impact on the way that they respond to this difficult situation. Because this is a time of change try to keep as much as possible the same – your home, their school, the car and activities. And very basically, do NOT use the children as weapons against each other. Children need quality time with each of their parents and the reassurance that you both love and value them. Don’t restrict access to one parent in order to punish the other, even if the children seem willing.
Parents sometimes use their children as spies to learn what is going on in the life of their ex. Don’t! If they want to tell you what they did listen closely and politely but stop – don’t question beyond “did you have a good time?” Most importantly let your children be a child. They aren’t your confidant – even if they are adults themselves. And if you believe they need a bit of extra help then get it. A good counselor can do wonders for stress management in children facing marital conflict.
Children who are experiencing the divorce of their parents can feel anger, pain, separateness, loneliness, guilt, and depression. If it’s a negative emotion they have the capability to feel it. Their short lives have been turned upside down and inside out. Give them the space and support they need to recover from this stress.
MDRC: The Effects f Marriage and divorce of Families and children
University of Pittsburgh: Children of Divorce
HelpGuide: Children and Divorce
Psychology today: Surviving Adolescence
Focus on the Family: How Could Divorce Affect My Kdis
North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service: Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children
Clinical Psychology Associates: The Effects of Divorce on Children
Provider Parent Partnerships: The Effect of Divorce on Children
Scientific American: Is Divorce Bad for Children
Iowa State University: The Negative Effects of Divorce on Children
American Psychological Association: An Overview the Psychological Literature on the Effects of Divorce on Children