Parents are often understandably concerned about their children when it becomes apparent that filing for divorce is an inevitability. They may have heard that it will cause the children to develop behavioral issues, academic issues or developmental issues. They do not want to do something that would harm their children.
The good news is that scientific research shows that these negative impacts are less common than people believe and that children generally cope fairly well with divorce. They can still maintain excellent mental health and academic performance, and most children don’t struggle with many lasting effects over time. The key is to understand how divorce can affect children and to take positive steps – such as family therapy or counseling – to address these issues as proactively as possible.
When parents and children go through a therapy process together, the children may find time and emotional space to ask questions. They may be very concerned about basic things like who is going to be with them on a daily basis, where they will live or if they will still be able to see both parents. They may also have questions that seem irrelevant to adults, like if they’ll get to keep all their toys or if they still get to be in the same class at school. But these things are very important to children, and it can help them to address those concerns.
Stressing the new normal
Therapy is also a chance for parents and children to talk about what the new “normal” is going to look like for them. Parents can stress that they will still both be involved in the children’s lives when possible and that they both still love the children. Talking through these types of things with a family therapist can get everyone on the same page.
It is clear that communication is important during the divorce process, and therapy can help parents and their children move forward. Similarly, seeking legal guidance can help to facilitate this goal when it comes to financial, legal and numerous practical concerns.