Divorce often pushes people to look inward. You have to really think about your decisions and behavior in order to understand what led to the failure of the marriage and potentially set yourself up for healthier, happier relationships in the future.
Between trying to advocate for yourself, processing emotions and moving on with your life, you could get so wrapped up in your own internal experience that you don’t recognize how hard the divorce is on your kids.
For children, including teenagers, the divorce of their parents can be one of the most traumatic experiences of their young lives. Trying to view the divorce and custody situation from their perspective can help you minimize the negative impacts of the divorce on your kids.
Children will also be self-centered in how they view a divorce
Just like you filter your experience of the divorce through your own emotions and experiences, so too will your children. It is common for kids of all ages to presume that they played some role in the destruction of their parents’ relationship.
Sitting down to talk with your kids and making certain that they understand that they bear no fault for the outcome of your marriage, potentially together as co-parents, can help assuage any guilt your kids feel.
Your kids are going to probably feel both rejected and angry
Feelings of sadness or depression in children because of a divorce are common. They may also experience anxiety. Often these feelings stem from concerns that their parents won’t love them anymore or that they have to choose between their parents, which is particularly hard if kids are close with both of their parents.
Your kids may also become angry and start to act out because of the disruptions that divorce causes. Giving your kids a safe space, like therapy, to express their emotions and committing yourself to not exacerbating them by putting your kids in the middle or trying to alienate them from your ex are good coping strategies for the emotional intensity that children experience during divorce.
They may eventually look for opportunities from the divorce
It is human nature to try to make the best of any situation, and some kids will become opportunistic when their parents divorce. Your child might try to play you against your ex or manipulate you for financial or material gain. They might try to initiate a cold war of gift buying between parents, for example, in order to benefit from the competition between parents.
Working together with your ex so that you both have the same rules and so that you aren’t competing to be better parents than one another can make it harder for your children to manipulate you after the divorce. The more you try to understand your children, their feelings and their needs, the easier the process will be for them.