Divorce is a traumatic event that creates upheaval in the family system and can cause a myriad of altering life changes upon children. Whether the children are young, middle aged or adolescents that feeling of ‘togetherness’ as a unit becomes ripped apart. While you can’t control what is happening as a result of a failed marriage, you can help your children cope with the undesirable outcomes. Behavior stability may be impacted and can have a detrimental ripple on how the child functions in school, socially and in every day living arrangements.
It is vital to ensure that the children are not suffering silently due to depression or ‘out of the blue’ atypical behavior. Therefore it is recommended to stay on top of these unforeseen changes and ask questions to the adults they are surrounded by at school, coaches, and teachers. Similarly if there are any confused signals the child is receiving when in the home, it is crucial to remember to try to co-parent as best as possible. Each parent may contribute to his or her child’s outlook but a solution of remaining civil and keeping good communication should counteract this rocky relationship.
As a parent who shares custody and has a working parenting plan, it is important to monitor your own behavior around your child. Your actions and words have a great impact on how your child perceives the world around them and what they are going through. A child may be feeling unsettled during this scary time and may act out as a result. What helps a child to come to terms with this is to be able to approach him or her calmly and ask if there is anything you can do to make your child feel more loved and secure and that both his parents are there for him/her. Being able to have consistent boundaries and rules established in both homes will safeguard the way a child relates to his environment. It may take a child some time to self-regulate emotionally, but over time they come around. Children are resilient and are able to bounce back at times. For other children they are slower at finding themselves through the chaos and may need outside help. Either way it is best to reach out to a counselor, therapists, and other mental health professional that are trained and knowledgeable regarding ways to help a child who is suffering from behavioral issues. Sometimes, a child may feel more comfortable when opening up about their feelings to a trusted individual who is not as closely involved with what is happening. Allowing a mental health professional to step in can only further help with modeling a desirable outcome you as the parent hope to obtain long term.
Parents are faced with challenges when their family has become divided. Children are dragged trough these hardships regardless of the aftermath. As a tool to consider when going through mediation is to make sure children are being monitored for behavioral concerns, being patient when approaching children about their feelings, and continuing to be a part of their life no matter what may happen
If you are contemplating divorce and want to put your children’s interest first, avoid a costly legal battle and obtain an economical “Peaceful Split,” then Attorney and Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Eric B. Epstein, Esq., is ready to assist you. Contact him now to discuss your mediation options.
Written by Erica H. Epstein, M.A. (Early Childhood/Elementary Education). Erica was a New York City public school teacher for 12 years and a Florida Pre-School Director for 7 years. She is presently a 2nd-year Master’s Degree Graduate student in the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Nova Southeastern University and is completing her training to become a Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator.