Hiding Behind Your Children in Divorceby Divorce Detox
Separation and divorce is traumatic for the whole family, yet each person within the family will have a unique experience when it comes to dealing and healing from this life transition. Learning to honor and respect each family members emotional response to the separation and divorce is an important part of moving on in a healthy adaptive way.
Cause of Stress
Divorcing couples with children deal with delicate and painful issues. One of the biggest causes of stress during a separation and divorce is a parent’s concern about how divorce will affect their children. The research on the impact of divorce on children is mixed, and is complicated with a variety of variables. The child’s age, relationship with the parents, gender, and temperament are just a few of the factors that make it hard to say how any one child will respond to the news of divorce.
Here are some things to remember when helping your family transition through separation and divorce:
Educate yourself about the impact of divorce on children. Knowledge is empowering, and learning the hard facts about the affects of divorce on children will allow you to respond authentically and rationally to your child’s experience. Avoid relying on what you think you know, or what you have heard. Incorrect information will not serve you or your family.
Become aware of your own beliefs and ideas about divorce. It is not uncommon for parents to feel that their own experience of divorce equates with their child’s. Presuming that your child is devastated because you are, or assuming your children will be “damaged” by divorce because you were is dangerous and ineffective. Your children will experience the divorce in their own way with your guidance, nurturing and support. There is no definitive outcome, only self-created experience.
Don't Be Obsessive
Parents can tend to hide behind their children to avoid their own pain of divorce. Many divorcing couples with children are heard saying things like “I just worry about the kids, I’m fine” or “I just want to make sure my kids are okay, I’ll deal with my own issues later.” Worrying about the children is normal, but not helpful. By obsessively focusing on their kids, parents are escaping their own pain and devastation. Most of what a parent expresses about their child’s emotions around divorce can be found inside the parent as part of their own suffering.
The key to a healthy outcome for children of divorce stems from how their parents perceive, and experience the divorce. Parents are role models for children so asking “how do I want to move through this experience?” is a helpful question to ask. Will it be with honor, integrity, and authenticity? Or will the transition be riddled with fear, negativity, bitterness and regret? Parents can learn so much from their children’s resilience, open-mindedness, and innocence.
About the Authors
Allison Pescosolido, M.A. and Andra Brosh Ph.D. are divorce recovery specialists working at Divorce Detox (www.divorcedetox.com), the leader in divorce recovery. Their programs provide the tools, courage, fortitude and inspiration to transform the way people think and feel about their divorce. They help individuals transition through separation and divorce to rebuild their lives. Allison and Andra understand the pain of divorce and see divorce as an opportunity for personal growth, wisdom and a happier life.