When a couple divorce there are often many practical concerns. Finances, home-making and how to restart one’s life all need to be considered. Children are top of the list too as young children are often most directly affected by the consequences of where they’ll live, be schooled and whether they’ll have access to their estranged parent. Then there’s the bigger picture of how divorce will affect the whole family.
Let’s look at ways you can support your family through the impact of divorce.
– Young children require stability. They may not have understood the implications of what’s been going on but will have been affected by an atmosphere of arguing, uncertainty and upset. Children have been known to blame themselves for their parents disagreements, feeling that their naughtiness or failures in some way contributed to their parents unhappiness. Children need reassurance and routine, to know that they’re loved by both parents, can speak to either whenever they need and that life will work out for them. Often regular reassurance that they’re safe and loved is sufficient. There could well be people in their orbit who are willing and able to fulfill that role.
If a home move is required why not let young people be involved in decorating their space, their room? It can help them settle into their new home and feel more accepting of their surroundings. Children will take their lead from you. Try to include and encourage them to see the positive side of the situation. When they’re happier and more settled it will help you relax a little and deal better with your stress.
– Teenagers living at home can struggle with a divorce. They may feel that loyalty demands they choose one parent over the other. Often there are financial implications for teenagers as less money in the pot can require adjustments to their lifestyle, schooling or further education options. Readjusting can take a little time and teenagers may need to talk things through and find emotional support during this process. Again, a sensitive grandparent, family friend, teacher or counsellor can make a real difference.
– Adult children living away from home, are often surprised at how much their parents’ divorce affects them. They may feel that they’re grown-up, with busy lives, at university or focused on their careers, perhaps with relationships or families of their own. They should be able to take such change in their stride. They’re often sympathetic to their parents’ need to take charge of their own lives and decide what’s right for them. But, nonetheless, it can be upsetting when they discover that childhood memories are being overshadowed by this new situation.
Some children may be relieved that their parent’s damaging, destructive relationship is finally coming to an end. Their parents are gaining their freedom and walking away to start their lives over again, hopefully finding happiness and contentment in the process. Other children may not have fully realised how difficult their parents’ marriage was. They may have been protected from it or simply got used to the tense atmosphere and accepted it as normal. Finding someone to talk with and work through personal issues and concerns can help with the grieving and healing process.
– Grandparents often experience significant changes after a divorce. They may feel torn between the need to be supportive of their own son or daughter, but are equally aware that they must be careful not to risk losing contact with their grandchildren. Often after a divorce one set of grandparents ends up doing rather more than before, helping out with childcare, finances, maybe even providing a home for a time. The other grandparents may become almost estranged from the children and family. Sensitivity and tact on all sides may enable a better solution to be found. Putting negative emotions like anger over grievances to one side can help to introduce a new basis for a future relationship.
It can be a good idea to consider counselling in troubled times. Counselling can provide a neutral environment for all involved parties to understand and come to terms with the huge changes occurring in lives and lifestyles. It’s an opportunity to voice issues, concerns and fears. Space is available in sessions to discuss different viewpoints, even if there are still unresolved issues that need to be accommodated.
Mutual patience and respect can allow you to successfully support your family through the impact of divorce.