Often the emotional impact of divorce extends beyond just those getting a divorce. Friends and family may be divided and felt forced to choose sides. This can be even more complicated and difficult for the children of a marriage. Whether biological or step, children have a front seat for the actions of their parents. The process can either cause turmoil and drama or it can be used as a time to show children that people can remain amicable amidst disagreement and life changes.
Divorces in Indiana can vary in length from 60 days to a few years. The unknown can leave children, and even the divorcing parents, confused about what their new life will look like. Children have the additional emotions of not knowing if they can express love towards one parent without upsetting the other.
The amount of information provided to the children needs to vary depending on the ages and maturity level of the children. The facts of the divorce may also play a role in what is appropriate to discuss. Each child has a different demeanor and information may need to be shared or withheld based upon their typical reactions to stressful situations and/or change. If a child gets very anxious with the unknown, it may be important to keep the child filled in on any changes that will be occurring. With that said, children can know that a parent will be moving out and parents are divorcing without needing to know all of the personal details about what led to the decision. The older the child, the more likely he or she has picked up on cues of an unhappy marriage before the divorce was ever filed. It is also more likely the child has overheard conversations or had direct conversations with parents about what is happening. It may be important to be open and honest with an older child or they can feel betrayed and lied to by those they love the most.
It is easy for parents to get emotionally caught up in the now without much regard for future relationships. A mother may prevail in a custody battle over a 14-year child because that child knows about an affair or abuse and does not want to live with their father. However, that additional information could cause a permanent wedge between father and child that lasts through adulthood. These same considerations should be given to the lasting effects of using social media to share private information.
There should be no shame in involving experts such as counselors to help parents deliver the news of a divorce to their children or to help the children cope with their new situation. There are mental health professionals that have devoted their careers to working with children of divorce. Detailed parenting plans can also assist parents and children in knowing what to expect. These plans can reduce contention by reducing the number of questions revolving around schedules, holidays, extra-curricular activities, etc. A family law attorney can assist the parents in creating an agreement that discusses all of the likely scenarios before they occur.
If you or someone you know has questions about talking to a child about divorce, Banks and Brower, LLC can assist. Give us a call at (317) 870-0019, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.