It’s very common for parents to postpone divorce until the children are older, perhaps after they’ve finished high school and are off to college.
Many believe that it’s better for the children to stay in an unhappy marriage than subject them to divorce.
Understandably you’d want to avoid uprooting your children from the only life of family, friends, and home that they’ve ever known.
Therefore, you might rationalize that it’s better – and easier – to put off divorce, especially when you (and the vast majority of people), have no idea what to expect with divorce.
It might be scary for you, so naturally you might believe it’s that much scarier for your kids.
As a 13-year-old child of a divorce fraught with ongoing conflict – and knowing what I know now after over 20 years of experience practicing family law – my mission is to provide the education and guidance to enable clients to make key decisions that will achieve the best results for themselves and their children.
What you might not know is that it’s not the actual divorce – which is simply the legal dissolution of marriage – that’s most destructive to children emotionally.
It’s the conflict that precedes and can pervade the divorce – whether or not there is shouting and yelling. It’s the way the divorce comes about. It’s the ongoing anxiety from not knowing what will happen.
As a result, children are much more likely to experience stomachaches, headaches, act out aggressively, and become withdrawn, socially, emotionally, or both. Their grades can suffer too.
Older children might make efforts to avoid being at home and verbalize that they want to be out of the house. They might express that they want the divorce to happen.
I can personally remember feeling an overwhelming sense of relief when my father finally moved out.
The fact is that your kids want you to be happy and they know when you’re not. They likely feel anxious about not knowing what might happen. In all likelihood, they feel that a divorce is imminent, and they don’t know how it will affect them. Above all, children need stability and security and know what they can expect from both of you.
Therefore, if you’ve decided to divorce, it would be ideal for both you and your spouse to sit the children down and explain exactly what’s going to happen, reassure them that regardless, you will always look out for them, do what’s best for them, and above all, love them.
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