For married couples with children, the most contentious subject in a divorce is children. Child custody and child support are often the most hotly contested items. And, unfortunately, as divorce becomes more and more of an emotional process, it can take its toll on children. Though, since divorce is so common in the U.S., there are common effects and ways to help mitigate them.
Do changing family dynamics have an impact?
Yes. Indeed, this is often the first divorce effect felt by children. This can make children feel like they are losing their family. This is not just in the communal living arraignment, but also parental relationships as two co-parents become two separate parents. This also extends to extended families that are now split, and depending on the circumstances of the child custody, friend, teachers, neighbors, etc.
One way to lessen this impact is to try to keep the family together as much as possible. This includes continuing family traditions that were established prior to the divorce. In addition, it can help to keep them in the same school district and, if possible, the same family home.
What about losing their sense of belonging?
Again, yes. As the family becomes two, there could be a sense that they no longer belong. This is because children routinely experience divorce as a rejection of them or as an abandonment of them. This can cause self-esteem issues and feelings of disconnection from their parents and other family members.
A key here is trying to maintain a sense of stability. Spend as much time with the children as possible, and make future plans. Try to keep old routines or establish new ones that include both parents. This can go a long way in helping children not lose their sense of belonging.
What about a child’s social life, school work and friends?
Most of the time, there is some change in location as a single parent normally cannot afford to live where they could when they shared expenses. This can mean losing their social life as their friends are no longer close and they may change school districts. This can be mitigated by home sharing (nesting), establishing play dates with old friends, attempting to rent an apartment in the same school district, etc. The key is to try to not uproot them completely, ensure the kids are given constant attention and establishing routines that keep them connected to their former Birmingham, Michigan, social life and friends.