Divorce can be difficult for minor children, who can feel helpless and confused in the swirl of events. They have no say in the sudden upheaval overtaking their lives or the changes they must face.
All of this may result in a negative impact on their mental health, potentially manifesting as anger, depression, anxiety, problems at school or other troubling symptoms. It is important to take steps to help children adjust in the aftermath of a divorce.
1. Consider birdnesting
The shift to constantly traveling between two homes can be extremely disorienting for children already undergoing a myriad of changes. It disrupts their schedule and may make them feel insecure, as if they do not truly have a home. When co-parents birdnest, they take on the burden of moving back and forth between homes. One parent stays in the family home with the children for a period and then swaps places with the other for the next stretch of time. This provides an added sense of familiarity and safety for the children.
2. Keep rules as consistent as possible
While making allowances for a hard time is sensible, it is also imperative to keep to the normal as much as possible. Sticking to existing rules and policies helps children feel as if they are on firmer ground.
3. Be open to expression
Some parents punish their children for feeling normal emotions or expressing them. This simply stifles them and can create serious mental health problems. Allowing children to feel and to express those feelings in a respectful and constructive manner, and ensuring they know they have someone they can talk to at any time is important for their healing and adjustment process.
Children are not fully mature. Attempting to ease their way into their new lives can help ward off or deal with mental problems arising from a divorce.