Parents will come to counseling often because they have made the decision to separate or proceed with a divorce. They will often present a fear that they are traumatizing their children by breaking up. It is true that even the most well-adjusted kids can experience confusion, guilt or fear when they find out their parents are splitting up. Divorce can unfortunately trigger behavioral problems when there were none before. Perhaps the most significant factor is the amount of conflict between parents before and after the divorce.
Effects of Separation on Children
Children are resilient in the face of these concerns. Typically, having both parents involved in the child’s life is the most ideal situation. The parents should be able to manage their affairs by themselves and not inflict any stress on their child by expecting them to take sides. Separation can affect children in many ways depending on many factors including the bond between the child and each parent. Their relationships may change unexpectedly during and after the separation in ways that may be unpredictable. Unfortunately, parents may also develop a severe attachment and dependence on their children. They may be extremely concerned about the welfare of their children and may express that in anger or fear.
What Should Parents do?
Every child benefits from reassurance and support from their parents during this time. Children can become distressed when their parents express bitterness about custody, child support and visitation which is why treatment can be beneficial for your child. It can be beneficial for the parents as well since negotiation is much more constructive than sorting them out between lawyers.
Children may not yet have the vocabulary to express the emotions they are feeling about a separation, so they will act out in expressions of anger, extreme sadness or explosions of emotion. They may have problems at school with their assignments or may develop behavioral issues that affect their learning. A child may even develop strong negative feelings about the parent who has custody and begin to idealize the parent who isn’t around, as child custody attorneys Phoenix AZ trusts can attest. Although some children seem apathetic to the situation, that may not be an indication of how they truly feel. They may not express these emotions right away, but be aware that they may express themselves in unhealthy ways.
When is it Right to Start Counseling?
Even if both parents agree that separation or divorce is the best option for them, it can be very difficult for the whole family. Everyone will require support from their loved ones. At this time, extra support from therapy may be helpful for everyone as well. If you are concerned that your child is responding adversely to your split, it may be time to consider therapy for them to sort out all their issues. It can ease the transition into divorce as well as help with issues of co-parenting down the line.
Thanks to our contributors from Hildebrand Law for their insight into counseling and child custody.