What Does Divorce Cost Our Children?
Getting a divorce can be difficult for parents, but it can be even more difficult and devastating for children. They are often torn between parents and do not end up living very stable lives. Because parents often involve their children in their divorce there may be long term effects.
Adults realize that even when mistakes happen, they recover and move on, but that is not the case for children. To children, they do not have the wisdom to see beyond what is happening now. Children often feel like the only family they have known is disintegrating. During this time, children must receive love and comfort from both of their parent’s.
When getting a divorce, your emotions are usually running high, and there are times parents end up putting their children in the middle of it all. Any behavior of this type is unacceptable in any situation. Children do not need to feel like they have to choose one parent over the other. When a spouse talks to their children about the other spouse, I believe that is about as a person can go as a parent. You say you love your children and you want to do what is best for them. Then why would you try to destroy your child’s relationship with their other parent and leave them in an emotional turmoil? Think before you say anything because you could easily say something that could affect them for the rest of their life.
Going through a divorce is usually difficult for the entire family. If you are having a conversation concerning your divorce with a family member or friend, always make sure your children are not around. Your children do not need to hear these types of conversations. Schedule a time to meet the person when your children are at school or off with a friend.
Some parents use their children to communicate information to their spouse. This infuriates me, and I do not understand how a loving mom or dad can do this. An example may be a situation where one of the parents will tell their child to tell the other parent to make sure to send the child support money the first of the month like they are supposed to. Or there are situations when a parent tells their child, “If your mom or dad starts dating someone tell them you are not allowed to be around them.” This a just one of many examples I have heard over the years. I have spent time talking to children trying to help them understand that their parents love them, and they care about each other, however, they get upset with each other sometimes because of what one of them may say or do. This would be a good time to provide your child with an example of how they can like a friend, but not like what the friend does. For example, you might say, “ Carrie, you know how you enjoy playing with Lisa, but when she spends the night, she keeps turning your TV on and your dad and I have to turn it off and remind you not to turn it back on? Lisa is your friend and you care about her, but you do not like her behavior, which is turning on the TV. You tell Lisa not to turn the TV on, but she still does because she sleeps with her TV on all night at home. It bothers you that Lisa turns the TV on, which is her behavior, but you still care about Lisa and she is still your friend.
Financial issues are often a concern in many divorces. Some parents are often tempted to deny a parent time with their child if the child support is behind. When a parent manipulates parenting time this way, it hurts your child and they see how you are treating their mom or dad. It is also very selfish of the parent. If you love your children don’t take away time they are supposed to spend with their parent because you want something a certain way. Your goal should always be to do what is best for your child. This is the way your child can end up going the divorce and still be happy and healthy.
Sometimes I honestly question the love a parent has for a child when they do things that can cause emotional damage to a child. As a parent you should realize the possibility of doing emotional damage to your child if you get your child involved. There are other ways to deal with issues besides playing a game where you use your children as pons. If your children actively participate in the divorce, it will also allow them to play one parent against the one another. What may have been an excellent parent-child relationship may deteriorate as children seek to meet their own needs at the parents’ expense. As you know, children are smart, and they catch on to things you do or say quickly.
I assume parents do not know the damage they are doing to their children. This damage may not be reversible so it could affect them for the rest of their lives. The things you hear that parents ask their children to do is unbelievable to me. I have heard of parents who ask their child to get information about the other parent. For example, a parent may say, ” When you go to your mom or dad’s home, see if you can find out who they have been talking with.” Seriously! I have even heard of one parent who told their child to ask the other parents for money. Then if the dad does not give his child money, the mom talks about him as if he is a bad dad because he will not help them when they need help.
A frustrated parent going through a divorce may be tempted to disparage the other parent, but they forget that when they do that, they are talking about one of only two biological parents their children will ever have. Don’t forget as a parent each of you contributed toward the creation and development of your baby. Your children are half of you and half of the other parent. Does that make sense? So, when you talk about their other parent are you talking about a part of them? It might not be something they understand at first, but later on it could present a problem. There are far too many parents who do this and then people wonder why things are wrong with our children. No one has the right to destroy a child’s relationship with the other parent, and at some point, the child usually finds out the truth and then turns against the other parent. No matter what you believe your spouse has done, it is between you and your spouse, and your desire should be to support your child throughout the divorce.
One example of a divorce that I feel had the worst impact on the children involves a mom who talked bad about her children’s dad. The mom told the two children things that were not even true in hopes that the children would not want to go to the dad’s house. Slowly the children stopped seeing their dad. Over time as the children got older, the mom asked the children about changing their names to her current husband’s last name. Of course, the children did not hesitate because they thought their dad was such a terrible person. Needless to say, when the children were older, they found out their mom had been telling them lies about their dad. Can you imagine how these children felt? How did this affect the children emotionally? Think about all the time the children missed spending with their dad because of their mom.
I believe it is essential to talk to children about the divorce but keep the focus of the conversation on changes that will be taking place. It is good if the parents can get together with your child and let them know what the two of you have decided not to continue to live together. That does not mean you do not love them anymore. Let the child know it does not have anything to do with their mom or dad. It has to do with the way we do things, our behaviors. When two people have different ways of doing things, sometimes it makes it difficult to live together. You may want to give your child an example of a situation they may have with one of their friends. For instance, remind your child that when their friend Lisa comes over, things often get out of hand because Lisa wants to stay up late and watch TV. You can like Lisa, but not like the way she always tries to get you to keep the TV on and stay up late. These are Lisa’s behaviors.
In a situation when you are having a difficult time with your spouse, I suggest you find a third party to talk with and discuss the situation. They can see things objectively and may be able to recommend some things to try. When you make an effort to work things out, it shows your commitment to your family. Even if things do not work out with you and your spouse, you know you did the best you could do, and that is all anyone can ask of you.
I know you want to be the best parent possible just like I do. When you and your spouse argue, and your spouses’ behavior upsets you, you get frustrated, and you end up unhappy. Not only this, you can also take the risk of taking it out on your children by accident. Often it may be in the way you communicate with your child or your unwillingness to do something with them. When you are upset, you cannot be the parent you want to be.