In general it has been found that if the parents cope well with the divorce, then so will their children. If the parents handle things calmly and level headedly, the children will follow and deal with things in their stride. Children have a tendency to follow their parents lead - they mimic them. If the parents are in a good place throughout and after the divorce, then their children will also be following closely in their footsteps. Therefore the priority here is to get the divorcing spouses to deal with their divorce in a positive manner.
Some parents put off divorce and say either that its for the sake of the children or, its until their children are old enough to make the adjustment and understand
Other parents get divorced, and, as a result of feeling guilty about robbing their children of two biological, resident parents, they spoil their kids rotten and then wonder why some of their offspring become delinquents, drop outs, and lazy, maladjusted, attention seekers.
There are many survey results available which indicate that if you get divorced your kids will probably:
Drop out of school
Become expelled from school
Have a juvenile court experience
Be economically deprived
Have damaged coping mechanisms
None of the above is true. When only the negative statistic appears, most of these types of surveys are sensation seeking to paint the blackest of pictures but, unfortunately they dont reveal the other side of the survey which shows that children whose parents divorce often do better in life in general as they are free of the conflict and stress of the bad marriage. Balanced surveys show that a high percentage of kids of divorced parents:
Become more self reliant at an earlier age;
Succeed in life better than those from the traditional two parent home where the parents are holding on until later;
Are doing better at school as a result of the divorce
Adjust well to unexpected situations
Can communicate and express themselves with no difficulty
Parents are often surprised to learn that their children go through very similar pain and stress as their own during and after the divorce. So that if the parents are bickering and emotionally bankrupt so also will be their children. The children are sensitive and feel insecure. They feel an enormous sense of loss. What is worse, they always feel guilty in some degree. The parents are usually unaware of this and so wrapped up in their own dilemma that the poor children are ignored and left to deal with their burdens as best they can. Further, at a time when the children need all the support they can get, their support system of Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents, Cousins and etc, has diminished considerably as a result of the divorce and of the fact that relatives take sides.
Children need to talk about what is happening to them. However, that doesnt mean that the parents should give them a sordid blow by blow account of the downfall of their marriage. Parents should not campaign for votes from their children. Kids just need to feel they are still part of the family circle. They should be able to express themselves and their concerns and be heard by their parents. The parent/children unit should be able to still feel comfortable with one another to the point where their children can express themselves freely and receive reasonably helpful and intelligent answers without being given too much adult information to process.
Bottling up is dangerous and chances are it will emerge in other ways. Let the children talk about what is happening to them. They need to feel that they are safe to express their own feelings over the divorce and their reactions to it, without further upsetting or stressing their parents. Also, parents must refrain from trying to get their kids to take sides because when that happens, the children avoid talking things over with their parents. If this has already happened, parents should select an approachable relative who will be able to listen to the kids. Lastly, parents should not unburden themselves upon their children.
Children need attention and recognition and they need more of it during a divorce. This helps a child cope with any disturbing life adjustments. Unfortunately, at the very time they need this most, (parent's divorce) they lose most of it. Sadly, if the attention they so badly need is not quickly forthcoming - again, usually because the parents are all tied up in their own emotional mess - the child will discover he gets the needed attention by bad or weird behaviour (acting up). If this keeps up, the child becomes conditioned to bad behaviour.
If your children start displaying bad or negative attention seeking behaviour, try to ignore it as best you can. Instead, when they display any form of good and positive behaviour, you can really praise them and reward them accordingly when they do good things.
Divorcing parents need to understand that they have to be in control of themselves and get into a good place with their divorce. Their children are basically mirror images of themselves and their behaviour. If the parents are adjust well then also will the children. If the parents are positive and displaying good coping skills then the children will be following in their footsteps. Sadly, if the parents are in a mess their children will also be in the same neurotic jumble.
Children have the ability to bounce back with a resilience that is superior to their parents. However, there are a few pre-requisites that the parents should supply. Sit together with your children and make a point of telling them that:
The divorce is not their fault they are not to blame;
Theres nothing they could have or can do to keep you both together;
There is nothing they can do to get you back together;
They must not try or feel required to take over the role/job of the missing parent;
They will always be loved by their parents;
You will experience emotional upheaval for a while and they need to be understanding;
All this is temporary until a little while after the divorce;
They need to adjust to some changes in their standard of living budgeting will happen;
They need to adjust to some changes in their style of living visiting another household;
The standards of discipline that were in place before the divorce are still in place;
There are ground rules which have to be obeyed.
Most importantly: get your own act together as quickly as possible and get your children back to normal. They are not your confidants or your burdens. They are your children and your pleasures. However, they are also your responsibilities and it is vital that no matter what you are going through they must still have a childhood.