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Children Of Divorce

How Will Divorce Affect Your Child?

Children who grow up in divorced families can lead the same positive well-adjusted lives as their two-parent family counterparts. Some people have come to believe that a child needs to live with both parents together in their household to be happy and healthy, while this is the ideal family setting, it is not always possible. Several factors may apply as to why a parent is absent from the household with the most obvious being the death of a parent but in the case of divorce certain barriers may prevent the parents from being together. One large factor is abuse. In the case of an abusive relationship a parent may not have any other alternative but to leave a relationship which could be harmful to the children.

While studies show that some children of divorced families may experience more difficulties in relationships such as dealing with peers, making friends and later adjusting to adult relationships, this is by no means set in concrete. On the opposite side of the spectrum, studies also show that many children from divorced families actually work harder at relationships. Since they may have grown up in a family where communication was strained between the parents, they have an awareness for the necessity of giving more of themselves and so they put forth more effort to make the adjustments necessary for healthy relationships.

It is true that children of divorce may certainly grow up an environment where there is a bit more stress and this depends quite a bit upon how the parents themselves handle the circumstances of their divorce. The parent that the child or children live with will no doubt be dealing with more stress, possibly worrying about finances and harboring the normal hostility that comes along with such a situation. Children are quite intuitive and able to sense these emotions in their parents. Recent studies done with children of various ages and their divorced parents show that in the majority of cases where the parents have been able to adjust well to their new circumstances, the children have also adapted with no lasting detrimental effects.

So what effect will your divorce have on your child? While no study can completely predict how any individual child will be affected by the consequences of divorce there are several factors that can play a role in the child's transition. One of these is genetics. This is something that most people don't even consider but an individual's genetic makeup can partially determine how a child as well as an adult will react to various happenings. Some people are genetically predetermined to better handle stress while others do not deal well with pressure. A parent may have two children who react completely different to the same set of circumstances. The environment in which the child is being raised will also play a role in how well a child will adjust. If the environment is kept positive the chances are improved that the child will adapt positively.

Situations where the child hears the parents arguing constantly or one parent is speaking negatively of the other could be harmful to the child's psyche. The child may feel torn between the parents and feel as though they are being forced to make a choice. A child could be inadverdently made to feel as thought he or she is betraying one parent. Children have a strong sense of commitment to their parents from a young age and should never be made to feel as though they have to choose between them. Many children have the misconception that they are to blame for their parents getting a divorce. They may feel that they have done something wrong and that if they change their behavior they will mend their parent's relationship. The lines of communication between the parents and the child need to be open. The children need to be reassured that they are not the cause nor are they to blame.

There are ways that you can try and make the adjustment less traumatic for both yourself and your child. If the child is old enough to talk to, then do so. Sit down with your child or children and talk to them. Let them know that this is not about them. If both parents can communicate on a respectful level, at least for the sake of the children, then it would be even better for both parents to talk to the children together. Let them know that you both love them and will always be there for them. If it is not possible for both parents to be present, then talk to your child one on one. Be as honest as you can be. Keep the environment positive for your child. Don't talk negatively about your ex-spouse. Don't show hostility. Don't argue in front of the children. It's your divorce; not your child's. And learn to forgive. Remember the old adage: "Children learn what they live." Teach your children forgiveness by being able to forgive. It is true that each situation is different with various causes at the root but in some cases there are people who just can't live with each other and that doesn't make either of them bad parents.

On a personal note: I am a child of divorced parents. I grew up never knowing my father. My parents divorced when I was one year old. My father was never a part of my life. I don't know if that was his choice or not. I assume it was and if so, I'm sure he had his reasons. When I would ask my mother questions about my father, she would always answer with a derogatory remark. Even as an adult, she would not submit to my inquiries. I hold no hostility about growing up without a father but I do wish that my mother had been more open and honest with me. I cannot stress enough how important the lines of communication between parent and child are.

Also, I have four children, two sons from my first marriage and a son and daughter from my second marriage. Although my two older boys have grown up living with me and their step-father, they have always known their father. He has and always will be a part of their lives. My husband, myself and my ex-husband have always put forth an effort to make sure that my boys have the advantages of an extended family. My ex-husband and I hold no hostility toward one another and learned to put our differences aside because our children are what's important. I also want to mention that my two sons are different in their reactions as I mentioned above that two children in the same circumstances may be. My oldest son has developed a strong bond to his stepfather whereas we joke that my younger son and his biological father are clones. I also have a stepson who sometimes gets along better with me than his father. We've combined our efforts to give our children an extended family of love. I realize that I've been lucky to be able to do this and some other families may be hindered in their efforts due to more difficult circumstances but the important thing is to give our children the love and reassurance that they need to live healthy, productive lives and a divorced family can do that as well as a married one; all it takes is an open heart and little effort.




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