Divorce is never easy on anyone in a family, for children especially. Research studies have shown that children with depression and conduct disorders indicators seem to develop these problems due to the conflict in the house, rather than the divorce itself. This makes it even more important for the parents to make sure that their children don’t see them fighting, and even more important to make sure to not involve their children in the conflict, such as parent alienation. We’ve seen in our experience that the most successful post-divorce children come from households where the parents are able to communicate and work together as parents, even from different homes.
However, we know that not all children are the same, and that applies to how they deal with divorce as well. Research has shown that boys and girls actually respond to divorce in different ways – boys tend to be more outwardly aggressive, such as causing fights both in school and at home, while girls tend to internalize their distress, and may become depressed or show changes in their eating and sleeping patterns.
What we’ve seen in our work is that children going through a divorce have an easier time dealing with the changes when their relationships with their parents don’t change. A child who is used to seeing both mom and dad daily who now only sees mom everyday is definitely going to miss their dad so it’s important to make sure that they spend quality time together whenever possible. Make sure to remind your child that the divorce is not their fault, that mom and dad don’t love them any less just because they aren’t living under one roof together anymore, and that it’s okay to be upset about the separation.