Divorce - If it Can’t Be Prevented then Do it Right
There is no such thing as the perfect marriage. There will be good days and bad days and that is an undeniable ebb and flow of life. But in some cases the bad overrides the good and before long misery takes hold of the relationship, often spilling over into the family at large. How can you tell if your marriage is failing? And how do you make the transition from “happily ever after” to single-family life in a smooth and healthy way?
Divorce is very hard on everyone, especially kids. In many cases, parents will put off divorce because of concern about how the little ones will react. It’s not an overblown concern - they are strongly affected by divorce and sometimes even smaller relationship woes.
Common signs of marriage trouble include: frequent arguments and heated exchanges, thoughts about infidelity (either desiring it or paranoia concerning the other party), possible physical aggression, and “silent treatment.”
These signs are huge red flags which are often picked up by children whether or not the parents know it. Especially because when things escalate to the level of impending divorce, they usually aren’t just arguments. There is an added sense of animosity and stagnation of problem-solving.
The kids aren’t seeing the healthy loving relationship between parents that they want. They instead perceive judgmental exchanges, secretive behaviors, and no one spending quality time together.
As a result kids don’t feel the security and parental unity so vital to development.
What effect does this wind up having on the kids?
Children of divorce are two times more likely to experience living in poverty, 12% less likely to go to college, and 8% less likely to finish high school.
It affects not just their immediate social and academic lives but also their future relationships with others. It can trigger substance abuse disorder, anxiety, depression, and worse if there is a particularly turbulent situation at home.
So if divorce is imminent, it’s adamant to figure out a healthy way to go about it for the sake of the kids. Doing this will reduce the likelihood of an overly negative psychological impact.
The key is establishing a disciplinary system that stays consistent between both parents - and both homes if separation is already underway. Keep their daily routine recognizable for them, to keep a sense of the familiar amid changing circumstances.
Always remind them that they are loved by both parents and if possible, show up to important events along with your spouse. This sends the message that the children are important enough to both parents that they will show support. Maybe even celebrate milestones together. All of this reinforces the sense of security and stability the child may feel is slipping away.
One important note: never, ever make the kids middle-men for complaints. Don’t make them agents of the fracturing relationship. This is a surefire way to cause psychological problems for them moving forward and it can potentially have negative effects on their future relationships.
In the case of adolescents, they possess a bit more maturity but are also more liable to act out in self destructive, potentially dangerous ways. Make sure they’re not getting into trouble and be vocal - tell them they’re loved. It may seem like a cheesy conversation to have with a teenager, but it’s likely just what they need to hear.
If things are getting worse, a divorce is unavoidable, and the kids aren’t taking it well - please reach out for therapy. Whether for the kids or the whole family, in therapy people can discuss family dynamics and individual concerns with a qualified mental health professional.
Please reach out to Bregman Medical Group if you need that extra help. We have decades of experience helping children and families make it through life’s hurdles. We offer online psychiatry and therapy right to your device! Simply schedule an appointment at www.bregmanmd.com or call 786-321-4909.