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Illinois divorce lawyersWhile many studies have indicated that children can recover from the emotional turmoil of a divorce (and may, in some situations, fare better in divorce than if their parents stayed together), they are still vulnerable and innocent parties who can be significantly and negatively impacted by the process. As such, parents are encouraged to make every reasonable effort to mitigate the risk of divorce-related maladjustment in their child. One of the more effective ways to do this is through communication - and not just about the divorce itself, but also the feelings that children are likely to experience as they adjust to the changes of their new life. 

Grief, Loss, and Pain Impacts Children During Divorce

Divorcing parents were once led to believe that children were “resilient” enough to withstand the emotional turmoil of divorce without any long-term, negative effects, but more recent data disproves this outdated theory. Children can experience maladjustment issues from a divorce, even if they do not display any immediate signs or symptoms. That is because, like adults, children can experience the complexity of grief, loss, pain, stress, and even self-blame during the divorce process. If not addressed appropriately, those feelings can simmer below the surface, only to emerge at a later date - and often at a time when the parent least expects it. 

Protecting Your Child’s Mental and Emotional Well-Being During a Divorce

Children, though fairly resilient, need to be protected from the potential ill effects of divorce - particularly those that can negatively impact their mental or emotional well-being. Ensuring that the interactions between you and your spouse (including those that take place over the phone or through email) are amicable is a great way to start, but it may still be necessary to use other mitigating tactics as well. For example, you may want to attend a parenting course that is specifically designed for families impacted by divorce, or you may opt to enroll your child in a peer support group or therapy to ensure they have a private space to talk about their feelings. Just remember, even if you seek outside help for your child, it is still recommended that you address grief and pain with your child, directly, as they may need your support while trying to cope. 

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Posted on in Divorce
child divorce reactionPerhaps the only thing more challenging than navigating a divorce is doing so when there are children involved. Cases differ in circumstances, but for the most part, it is generally true that parents are very concerned with the well-being of the children as they go through this process and their family is ultimately changed. There is no shortage of advice for divorcing parents with children, and many parents welcome ways to make the transition easier for their kids. A recent article suggests 10 things that all parents who are going through a divorce should say to their children for encouragement and reinforcement during this difficult time.

Advice for the Children

  1. Assure them that what is happening between you and your spouse is not their fault. It is normal for them to look for reasons their parents are divorcing, and some children may blame themselves.

  2. Validate their emotions by letting them know there is no wrong way for them to feel. Their emotions can fall on a spectrum, just as is possible for the spouses who are divorcing. Whether they feel sad or angry, let them know their feelings are natural and realize they may change over time.

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Posted on in Divorce
talk-to-children-about-divorceDivorce is a very stressful situation to go through, and throwing kids into the mix can make it much, much harder.  For many parents, the most overwhelming part of their divorce is breaking the news to their children.  However, with a few pointers, this talk can be made a lot smoother. Before sitting down to talk with your children, it is very important that you and your spouse agree on what exactly you are going to say.  You do not want to contradict one another while talking to your children, which could make things even more confusing for them, especially if they are younger. In some cases, spouses will have to give the talk separately.  Even if this is the case for you, try your best to still reach an agreed script so as not to send mixed messages to your kids. If your divorce is a relatively amicable one, try and sit down with your kids as a couple.  This will send the message that you are still a family, and even though you and your spouse are separating, you are still their parents.  This will also help assure them that you will both still play active roles in their lives. One of the most important pieces of advice for talking to your children about divorce is to make sure they know it is not their fault.  To do this, you want to give them reasons that they can live with.  Things like “we grew apart” are appropriate.  Your children will automatically assume that because they asked for something at the store, or fought with a sibling, the two of you are getting a divorce.  Assure them that it is nobody’s fault and your love for them will never change. Sitting down to talk about divorce with your kids may seem scary, but it doe snot have to be.  If you are preparing for “the talk” and have any questions, don’t be afraid to contact an experienced Illinois family law attorney to assist you.
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