Divorce – How a child experience this case
Statistics show that divorces are increasing. The divorce rate in our country is 27%, while in the US is reaching 50%. Parents leading to divorce seem to believe that their decision is the most correct not only for them but mainly for the child. However, the sudden interruption of a long-term -and certainly for the child- secure relationship, even if it is under pedagogical conditions, it will be a traumatic experience for the child. The child perceives it as ’emotional amputation’. As mentioned in a previous article, the emotional development of the child depends not only on the physical presence of both parents, but also on their successful marital relationship. Through children’s eyes dad is “the giant-the safety” and Mom “the great hug, sweetness, sorry”
HOW A CHILD EXPERIENCE DIVORCE
According to psychologists divorce works with anti-educational way, as
• it is a disrupting event. Disrupting the stability of the relationship and operations with individuals and objects, but also with the “space” and time (eg the child may need to change home). The new situations that the child will experience require immediate adaptability at an age that adjustment should be gradual and progressive. Among these many changes, the child seeks for answers about the reasons that all these are happening. The “logic” answer that he gives to himself is that the parent does not love him anymore, which contributes negatively to the development of his self-esteem.
• The child is exposed to fights usually preceding the divorce, and generally a sense of disorganization is created. When children witness scenes of hostility they are possessed by a loss of security and trust, two feelings that the need for them might not be ever covered.
• The child cannot understand the causes of divorce. The love towards both parents make him feel divided and anxious, unable to perform its responsibilities in one of the two. Finally, he blames himself.
• The forced departure of a parent perceived as ‘psychological’ deprivation affecting child’s development.
• Having to give explanations to those around him (teachers, friends) about the changes that happened to his family. The child finds it difficult to face alone this emotional confusion.
In summary, what has devastating consequences is the deterioration of relations, more than the cessation of emotional ties
HOW CHILDREN REACT
The announcement of the divorce will certainly cause some reactions, different ones depending on the age and the personality of each child. They may experience:
• Denial of separation of a parent
• Aggressive behavior towards their parents but also to the social environment and disobedience
• Hypersensitivity- crying for no particular reason
• Introversion (mostly teenagers)
• Disturbed sleep and nutrition
• Depressive behavior and feelings of guilt
HOW SHOULD PARENTS ANNOUNCE THAT THEY ARE HAVING A DIVORCE
Even at early ages parents have to explain to the children about what is going to happen. This way they will help them feel more secure.
• The announcement must take place in a familiar place for the child (such as home, his room) and it would be good both parents to be present.
• It goes without saying that the peace of mind is necessary so the negative (if exist) emotions between them won’t be visible to the child. We must show that the decision is jointly taken and that both agree.
• Parents must answer truthfully to all questions that their children will ask and let them express their feelings.
• If there are siblings, it is better that the announcement take place simultaneously, even though the children are of different age. The presence of the brother or sister is an important support at the time.
• What should be clarified to the child is that the parents have not ceased to love each other. The emotions (love, joy, sadness) pass. But love is not an emotion. It’s a situation, a situation given and sacred to the family. The child must understand this difference and not be afraid that the love of parents for each other and for the same may stop sometime.
• The assumption of responsibility by parents is also significant. We need to reassure the child that he is not responsible neither for the decision of divorce, nor their marriage! Many times couples get married because of a pregnancy. Under no circumstances should they dump responsibility for their decisions on the child.
• If a parent is not cooperative, the other must inform the child, without appearing weak or uncertain.
• Parents can argue with the child in order to convince him that this decision is the most favorable. Fights or sad moments will no longer exist.
• The safety for the future seems to be necessary for children. As mentioned above, divorce makes changes in their lives so they feel insecure. But if parents explain to them exactly how to roll their life starting from this point (where to stay, that they will not deprive anyone of the parents, etc.), they ensure a degree of confidence for the future.
• Under no circumstances should the parents blame each other. The child loves and needs them both equally. Casting responsibility one to another, can only result to confusion. Parents should speak with respect, even to justify the other parent to the child. Still, they should encourage child’s relationship with the parent who left home, so his departure should not be taken as a rejection. If they cannot have a direct contact, at least they must talk to a phone call every day.
• Parents do not have to do all the favors the child asks so they can coax him or help him not feel sorry. Material goods cannot replace the family. Their behavior should be the same as before the divorce.
• It is advisable not to change the child’s home or neighborhood, as well as school.
• If the child does not want to announce the divorce to his friends or to the school environment, parents have to respect this wish. He will discuss it with his friends, when he is ready.
However, the intensity with which each child will experience the divorce depends on how that was done and also on the reaction of parents. If parents do not properly manage the situation the children are forced to ‘ripen prematurely’ to become advisors and protectors of their own parents.
The words of P are characteristic, when the divorce of her parents finally came at her 15 years: “I haven’t seen my parents so loved since long time ago. Now after their divorce they have calmed down! “.
We conclude that both for children and for adults A HEALTHY DIVORCE IS BETTER THAN A SICK MARRIAGE!
Kosmopoulos, A. (2007). Psychology and guiding of childhood and youth, ATHENS: Gregory
Chourdaki, M. Family Psychology. ATHENS: Gregory
Herbert, M. (1989). Psychological problems in childhood. ATHENS: Greek Letters
Teyber, E. (2011) The children after divorce. Modern Times
Source in Greek: fylada.blogspot.gr