Di­vorce Does Have An Ef­fect On Your Chil­dren

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - COMMUNITY - CAR­RIE NICKLES, LPC, IS A FOR­MER COUN­SELOR WITH OZARK GUID­ANCE AND IS SEE­ING PA­TIENTS TUES­DAYS AND THURS­DAYS AT PRAIRIE GROVE HEALTH AND WELL­NESS CEN­TER. CON­TACT HER AT CAR­RIE.NICKLES@GMAIL.COM. Car­rie Nick­els WCEL Colum­nist

Chil­dren And Di­vorce

Part 1

When you and your sig­nif­i­cant other de­cide that your mar­riage is no longer func­tion­ing for what­ever rea­son, can you please take a mo­ment to think be­fore you react, es­pe­cially when it comes to your chil­dren. Chil­dren are al­ready go­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence a sense of loss, and po­ten­tially trauma, when “mommy and daddy are no longer liv­ing in the same house.”

You have a choice to make and it is one of the most im­por­tant choices you will ever make be­cause it may de­ter­mine the hap­pi­ness and de­vel­op­ment of your child(ren). Do you focus on co-par­ent­ing or do you re­main an­gry and hurt which leads to con­tin­ued fight­ing, ar­gu­ing and dis­rup­tion for the chil­dren. You will have to grieve your di­vorce but not at the ex­pense of your chil­dren.

Di­vorce is one of the hard­est and most chal­leng­ing things that a child can ever ex­pe­ri­ence, es­pe­cially if they are put in the mid­dle and have on­go­ing feel­ings that they have to choose and they have to take sides, which is what a child of­ten feels or per­ceives when they are in the mid­dle of a par­ent di­vorce. You have to re­mind your­self each and ev­ery time a de­ci­sion is be­ing made about your chil­dren that it is about the child, not your ex-spouse.

Some of the worst chronic stress dis­or­ders, de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety is­sues I have ever faced when work­ing with chil­dren stem from their par­ents’ di­vorce. They of­ten feel like a rope be­ing pushed and pulled rather than be­ing able to be a care­free child. They are no longer chil­dren; they be­come the peace­keeper in the fam­ily sys­tem. They are try­ing to ‘fix’ things so that the fight­ing stops. This is not the role of a child.

Of­ten times the emo­tions a child feels when it comes to a fam­ily di­vorce and dy­nam­ics can lead to things that no one wants to hear about. Ef­fects can be self-in­jury, ad­dic­tion and sui­cide be­cause a child doesn’t want to man­age or deal with the over­whelm­ing feel­ings of a di­vorce or have to deal with mom and dad not be­ing able to get along. A child may be­gin to think, “What have I done wrong?”

Over the years I can­not tell you how many chil­dren have asked me, “Can you please get both of my par­ents to come to my birth­day party this year?” This is a sim­ple re­quest from a child, but of­ten it is met with bar­ri­ers by one or both of the par­ents.

Kids don’t care who is pay­ing child sup­port and they should not know the de­tails of why their par­ents are not to­gether any­more. They should hear that “mommy and daddy” love them so much and know with cer­tainty that they will al­ways both be part of their lives.

When chil­dren look into the mir­ror at a re­flec­tion of their own face, they see both their mother and fa­ther. But imag­ine an im­age when mommy and daddy are con­stantly fight­ing. Keep in mind that if you are choos­ing to talk poorly about the other par­ent (and do not as­sume ever that it is when they are not around, or can’t hear you) you are choos­ing to speak poorly about your child in their per­cep­tion.

Next week: Chil­dren And Di­vorce, Part 2

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