What is the Impact of Divorce on Children of Different Ages?
Wheaton Divorce Lawyers
The concept of divorce may be difficult for children to grasp. Even the adults going through the divorce may have difficulty explaining and rationalizing the decision to their children—whether they are infants, school-aged, teens, or even adults. Taking the time to help your children understand the divorce is critical to their future well-being, and also important in preserving the relationships in your family.
Children and Divorce
Young Children & Toddlers
Young children are the most likely to blame themselves for the divorce. Lacking the emotional maturity to understand beyond what is in front of them, toddlers and very young children are the most likely to be susceptible to negative consequences following a divorce. They may face emotional problems later in life and remain confused about the divorce during their childhood, misplacing blame upon themselves.
Fortunately, there are actions divorcing couples can take while the divorce is pending to help young children through this time. Therapy, beginning during the divorce proceedings, has been proven beneficial in helping young children through this difficult time. A therapist working with the child during and after separation can help rationalize the events to a child as things progress through the divorce. Additionally, and critical regardless of the age of the child, try your best to keep a routine with your ex-spouse for the benefit of the child. According to Parents.com, young children, toddlers especially, are already confused by shared custody, travel, visits, and new schedules—sticking with a routine can be extremely helpful in preserving the children’s emotions and easing the transition.
Teens and Adults
As for teens and adults, even though they may be able to better rationalize the divorce (as they may be married themselves), divorce is still a difficult concept to grasp. Teenagers are more likely to take sides in a divorce, blaming one parent over the other. This can create custody issues in the household, drama, and emotional problems for the teenager. To avoid this, try to make it clear to your teen that the divorce was a mutual decision—made together, not just by one of the parents. Teens will eventually come around, especially older teens. Older teens will appreciate you treating them like adults and including them in the conversation; they should have a say in custody discussions and have the opportunity to ask questions and be involved.
The same is true with adults. It can be very confusing explaining to your adult children that despite the 20 or more happy years together, you have decided to get divorced. Adults have created their own identity at this point and have the emotional maturity to understand the concept, but still may struggle with taking sides or blaming one parent over the other. As with older teens, a frank, adult conversation is the best way to deal with this difficult situation. Holidays, vacations, and visits should also be discussed in advance to avoid awkward, last-minute issues between family members.
From toddlers to adults, including your child in the conversations you have about divorce is critical from the moment you make the decision through the settlement negotiations and the aftermath. Blaming the other spouse, ignoring their feelings, putting them in the middle of an argument, or otherwise not putting your children’s needs first will only make things more difficult for the child (and you, in the long run). Getting through a divorce as a family can be difficult. Applying these tips is a good starting place in easing the transition for your children.
Contact An Experienced DuPage County Divorce Lawyer
Divorce can be a devastating time for a family. If you are experiencing a divorce, you know that, unfortunately, there are no magic words you can say to your child that will rectify the confusion, blame, and emotional distress everyone involved is feeling. However, at Abear Law Offices, we can help you get through this hard time. We have helped thousands of families in the greater Chicago area get through their divorce settlement and successfully move on to their newly independent lives, with their children by their side.
Everything about a divorce can be made exponentially easier by hiring experienced Illinois divorce lawyers that can help you and your family cope and make important decisions together. We know you want the divorce process to be as quick and amicable as possible, and we work hard to do everything we can to facilitate that. We can help with simple divorce, child custody, property division, business valuation, and everything else regarding your marriage dissolution. Contact us at one of our five convenient Illinois locations to learn more about how to begin the divorce process today. Call our Wheaton law office at (630) 904-3033 to set up a consultation with one of our experienced DuPage County divorce lawyers.