Going through a divorce is one of the hardest life events spouses and their children can go through. Children are often the ones who suffer the most when they are caught in the middle of their parents’ divorce. As a clinician these are the common mistakes I see while conducting therapy.
1. Talking negatively about the child’s parent to the child.
2. Punishing the child for the ex-spouses mistakes.
3. Making the child feel like they must pick sides.
4. Pressuring the child to tell you about what’s going on in the ex-spouses life.
These mistakes not only negatively impact your relationship with your children but also cause this already difficult life altering transition to be even more difficult. Children when caught in the middle begin to carry their parents emotional stress. Children often start displaying physical ailments such as headaches and stomachaches. Usually when children start displaying these symptoms it is often due to stress or more specifically anxiety. The more negative comments told to the child the more the child’s mental health is at risk. Often the children begin to feel the stress they need to fight their parents battles. Without being aware they transition into the role of the spouse, often fighting with their other parent causing a divide between child and parent. This role transition can cause a permanent divide if not corrected.
What to do
These helpful guidelines can help your children be less negatively impacted by your divorce.
- Listen to them about their concerns.
- Excuse yourself when discussing sensitive topics with your ex-spouse.
- Let your child know you want them to have a relationship with their other parent.
- Let your child know they didn’t do anything wrong.
- Avoid fighting in front of your child.
- Let your child know they do not have to get in the middle.
No one is ever prepared for the stress that comes along with a divorce. A goal that can make it easier between the ex-spouses is to never put the child/children in the middle you are helping them to be less negatively impacted by this life changing event. Your children will thank you later.
The clinicians at Collaborative Counseling and Psychiatry are here to help you and your family navigate all the obstacles and hardships life may bring. Please call (847)440-2281 if you would like to schedule with one of our clinicians.
Divorce and Children: Do’s and Don’ts
Michelle Maggio, LCPC, NCC
Collaborative Counseling and Psychiatry