Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, including your kids.
The holidays can be an especially difficult time for your kids. They experience a sense of excitement and nostalgia, but with so much of their lives now changing, children can have a hard time enjoying themselves.
Thankfully, understanding the psychological effects of divorce on children can help you take steps to help promote a happier holiday season for your kids.
The Psychological Effects of Divorce on Children – What Fathers Need to Know
Parenting kids through a divorce is definitely not easy – but is an essential duty of both parents.
Divorce is hard on all children. However, every child is unique and will respond differently to their parents’ divorce. Children are also resilient, but how long it takes each child to bounce back from setbacks will vary.
You can help make this process easier by being on the lookout for the following psychological effects of divorce on children to know when your kids need extra support.
The parent-child bond changes after a divorce. This is typically due to the loss of regular, daily contact with one of their parents. Additionally, due to the high-stress levels of custodial parents, the relationship the child has with that parent will change as well.
Children of divorce may also have to change schools and move to a new home in a new neighborhood. All of these seemingly abrupt changes are scary and compound the stress they are already experiencing.
Mental Health Issues
A recent article in World Psychiatry found that children of divorce are up to two times more likely to struggle with mental health issues. Divorce can trigger an adjustment disorder that can be resolved in a few months for some children. In others, anxiety and depression increase and can become something they deal with into adulthood.
The article in World Psychiatry also mentioned that children of divorce have higher rates of impulsive and even risky behavior. They may act out at school or in the home. In extreme cases, they may even have academic difficulties, substance use issues, and depressed mood.
Problems in School
Due to the disruption caused by divorce, a child’s academic performance can suffer. However, not all children of divorced parents struggle with this, according to a 2019 study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
4 Ways to Help Children Enjoy the Holidays After Divorce
Despite the psychological effects of divorce on children, you and your family can still enjoy a happy holiday season. Here are some tips for parenting kids through a divorce so they can have fun over their holiday breaks.
1. Lend a Listening Ear and Show Empathy
Right now, your kids are likely scared and confused. Now is the time for extra attentive, loving care. Listen carefully and with empathy to their concerns – even if these do not feel like a big deal to you, they matter to your child. Validate their feelings and spend as much quality time with them as possible.
2. Avoid the Loyalty Game
Some parents inadvertently play on their child’s sense of loyalty. Children can feel very conflicted when it comes to spending time with each parent. They feel guilty being with one and not the other. Let them know that everything will work out and they can simply enjoy spending time with their family.
3. Commit to Creating Positive, New Holiday Memories
Work with your ex to put your differences aside. Discuss how you can successfully co-parent your kids during the holidays (and beyond). Figure out ways to create new, positive memories during the holiday season, both with your ex and without.
4. Laugh, Relax, and Have Fun
You are dealing with the stress of a divorce, too, which can lead to sour moods. Try to be mindful of this and put extra effort into relaxing and concentrating on having a good time whenever you get to spend time with your kids.
When Custody Issues Add to the Stress of Your Divorce
Custody and child support issues can add even more stress to the divorce process. Too often, kids end up in the middle as messengers between their parents. In some cases, due to the tension between exes, the parents subject their kids to negative, manipulative comments about the other parent, which can result in parental alienation.
The team at Divorce Lawyers for Men understands the delicate situation you and your ex are facing. We will help you and your ex-spouse create a fair parenting plan that benefits all parties, particularly your children.
Do you feel like you and your ex are in a battle over the kids? Contact our team today to learn how retaining one of our attorneys can help.