Family separation and divorce paves the way to potential psychological disruptions within the family. Issues such as making arrangements for the children, splitting of finances between the parents, retaining the family home, a living arrangement of children are not going to be easy. They do take a toll on the adults’ and young children’s mental health. And if not dealt with proper care and precaution people succumb to depression.
The couple generally goes through these emotional phases when they separate from their partner:
- Non-acceptance of the fact that the relationship is damaged beyond reconciliation and the divorce is inevitable.
- Angry with each for not been able to keep it together.
- Guilty that they probably didn’t give enough time and space to their relationship.
- Scared about what future holds for them after separation and divorce.
- Grief-stricken, the couple try to vent out their frustration and uncertainty.
- Once the couple slightly settles down with the idea that divorce is on the cards, for sure, they start looking objectively at the situation in hand and start working on sorting things out.
- The couple then starts exploring sensible options to separate ways without causing many disruptions in their children’s
When so many things are going on in the parents’ mind and lives, it is tough for the parents to hold and protect the children as they always did to save the kids from the adversities of life.
Children go through these emotional points when they get to know their parents are separating:
- Children may suffer low self-esteem due to the separation of their caregivers, ie, their parents.
- They may feel a sense of loss leading to depression or other behavioural issues.
- May get addicted to drugs in order to avoid facing the reality of their parents’ separation.
- The children may grow up distrusting relationships.
- May feel it all started because of them and start feeling guilty.
These emotional disturbances may subside and overcome over a period of time and with the stable and loving support of both the parents.
Children under 5 years of age may get sad and scared to know that their parents are not going to stay together and their family will not be the same again. There may be behavioural issues with their siblings or other children in the class. Nightmares, bedwetting, clinginess, separation anxiety are the commonly expressed emotional trauma of the children.
Primary school aged children may show their angst differently than the pre-schoolers. Anger and aggression are the dominant reactions in primary school goers when they get to know of separation. They may also feel unloved by their parents and start blaming themselves or the parents for putting them in such distress.
Children in pre-teens start avoiding their parents and the reality of their separation. They may cover up their emotions and start looking for substitutes as a means of avoidance. The pre-teens are just at the cusp of forming opinions and they start feeling embarrassed and let-down by their parents.
Teens are much expressive when it comes to showing their insecurity and angst. They substitute their friends for the family and try to be all-out and independent sooner. They may become rebellious or act as a father/mother figure to their younger siblings in the family.
How the children take their parents’ separation depends largely on how the new is broken to them and how the parents conduct themselves infront of the children. A hearty explanation with the warm and caring act by both parents may reduce the insecurity to a great extent.
Separation and divorce affect all the concerned drastically while demanding thoughtful ways to move-on keeping the children’s interests intact.
Some suggestions to keep separation peaceful:
- As adults are respectful to each other even though you cannot be a normal couple as earlier.
- Please don’t let your fear and frustration out in front of the children.
- Make as little changes as possible in your family time and daily lives involving children.
- Talk to children often, answering their innocent questions in a simple manner.
- Shunning away either of the parents from the children is a disastrous idea unless there is fear any kind of abuse by the other parent.
- Don’t let bad blood brood in the family.
- Tell your children that as adults you are separating but as parents, you are always there for them.
I would suggest, seek professional help. You can get a couple counselling for yourself and get in touch with a child psychologist for talking it out with your child.
You can get family and child related advice arranged by the Family Courts of Australia. Get the details here: www.familyrelationships.gov.au
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