New survey finds parents are unaware of divorce’s impact on children
Divorce can be an emotionally trying and complicated time for the children involved. According to a recent survey done by the U.K parenting website, Netmums.com, many parents are unaware of what their children are going through during their divorce. The survey questioned 1,000 parents and 100 children separately about divorce.
The study revealed that 39 percent of the children surveyed admitted that they hid their feelings about their parents’ divorce and 20 percent stated that they did not feel like they could talk to their parent, because their mother or father was too caught up in the divorce. In addition to this, 14 percent of the children surveyed said that they did not feel like they could be honest with their parents about how upset they were feeling. Although the children reported having a variety of emotional issues, 77 percent of the parents questioned reported a belief that their children were handling the divorce well.
Breaking the news
Despite the findings of this survey, children do not have to feel this way, if their parents help them cope effectively with the split. Helping children cope with divorce starts with the initial announcement. If you and your spouse have made the decision to divorce, tell your children open and honestly that you are getting divorced and spare your children the complicated details.
Expect a mix of reactions from your children after you tell them. In order to help them cope after this initial announcement and throughout the rest of the divorce proceedings:
- Assure the children that both parents love them.
- Assure the children that they will not be losing a parent.
- Refrain from speaking negatively about your spouse in front of your children.
- Avoid making your child the messenger or go-between for you and your spouse.
- Do not argue with your spouse or discuss important matters in front of your children.
- Refrain from trying to obtain information about your spouse from your child.
Rapid recovery for children
Even though children may take the news harshly at first, they will likely recover quickly. According to a study done in 2002 by the University of Virginia, the initial effects a child experiences from his or her parents getting divorced may quickly diminish. The study found that while feelings of anger, anxiety and disbelief may be prominent during the first year; they either diminish or disappear completely during the second year after their parent’s divorce.
If you and your spouse are considering divorce, consult with an attorney in your area to determine how you can help your child cope throughout your divorce. You should also consider obtaining the counsel of a qualified mental health professional.