Parenting Issues 20 Dec 2011  3 Comments

Parenting Issues

Divorce is a difficult time for both parents and children, regardless of the child’s age and level of development. Issues experienced by children during divorce are: loss of the non-custodial parent, vulnerability, a sense of powerlessness, acute anger and a void in the sense of family and customary support systems.

Children, ages three  to five, may regress in their development and exhibit sleep problems and a fear that separation and loss may also be evident in the custodial parent. A heightened need to interact with the non-custodial parent may also be apparent. In early latency, ages six through eight, grief is exhibited by the child and fantasies of the parents reuniting in the future are common. Divorce is seen more as temporary rather than permanent.

In late latency, ages eight through eleven, a sense of powerlessness prevails, with feelings of anger over the loss of the intact family. The child may try to take over the role of missing parent and attempt to provide the care and support, that is absent.

In adolescence, ages twelve through eighteen, there may be feelings of depression, acting out episodes and possible suicidal ideation. Moral judgements may influence the adolescent’s thinking about their parents decisions and actions. In becoming more involved with their own peer group, the adolescent can meet their own basic needs better and show more compassion for one parent over the other.

Divorce can have an impact on parenting skills, as the custodial parent is faced with establishing new routines, at the same time dealing with less money and the possibility of having to work, in order to support the children. Hopefully these hardships are more short term than long term, but if they persist along with recurrent conflicts with the other parent, than problems will continue to escalate and parent-child relationships will suffer.

Children should have access to both parents and extended family members. Parents and extended family members do not divorce the child. Children need a sense of continuity and a predictable routine. Parental guilt over the divorce should not interfere with¬† fair, consistent and firm discipline. If the intensity of the child’s reaction to the divorce is more than you think it should be or lasting longer than you believe it should be, than your decision to seek professional help is worthwhile and can benefit both the parent and the child. A professional assessment can support the parent’s decision that help is the right thing to do in trying to move in a healthy direction.

About the Author

Mel Kaufman

Mel Kaufman has been in the healthcare field for over thirty years, as a clinician, administrator and consultant in mental health. The article was written as an educational reference, regarding divorce.

Reina S.Weiner  10 Mar 2010

An informative and supportive article. True, divorce is hard on all, but loving and supporting children eases the process somewhat.

Lulu Campbell  13 Mar 2010

I was just recommended your site by someone who commented on my blog. I write about divorce et al on my single parent family blog so thanks for the advice and good to meet you! Lx

Jeannine  19 Mar 2010

This should be required reading for all separated couples with kids. Read and learn. Remember compromise is much better than arguing.

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