Some children are so young when their parents divorce that they don’t ever remember them being together. Others are old enough to always remember what took place. They will recall what they were doing when they found out about it and how it affected them. It is important for parents to understand that children of various ages will deal with divorce differently.
This means you are going to need to prepare yourself for what each of your children will understand about the process. For some children it is nothing more than knowing that their dad won’t be living in the same house with them. For others it is a complete change of life from the way they have always known it. On top of all of that, children of the same age group will also look at the divorce process differently.
Understanding the feelings of your children and how they relate to a divorce is extremely important. Very young children, even those that aren’t old enough to talk yet can understand the emotions of people. They can often identify issues such as stress, tension, and they definitely know when their parents are upset.
As a result of this their own behaviors may change. They may cling to one or both of their parents. They may not want to go to strangers. Temper tantrums as well as crying are common. A young child may exhibit changes in their eating and sleeping patterns as well.
Children from about three years of age to around five will be able to verbalize some questions about the divorce. They will often notice that the other person isn’t around like they used to be. They may pose questions such as why the other parent doesn’t go to the park with them or whey they live someplace else.
Children that are from the age of six to about eleven will likely know someone who has divorced parents. They will likely know what the term means. However, that doesn’t mean they are going to readily accept it. Be ready for some changes in behavior as well as some very tough questions.
Displays of anger are very common with this age group as the children are simply overwhelmed by their emotions. They may lack the skills to effectively be able to handle what has been taking place. Do your best to get them to talk about it even if they aren’t sure what they are feeling or why.
Older children who are from twelve and up often understand more about divorce than any other age group. They may blame themselves or attempt to find more detailed answers as to what was taking place. Chances are that this older age group was well aware of some issues in the marriage before the announcement of the divorce entered the picture.
It is very common for children in this age group to be angry at one parent and to want to be a caregiver for the other. Do your best to get your child to see both parents as equals. If you can offer a united front as far as the divorce and caring for the children though it will be easier for them to do so. Children don’t need to be your confidante when it comes to the divorce. Turn to another adult for someone to listen or to a professional counselor.
Children of various ages will deal with divorce differently and parents need to be aware of it. This is going to be a huge change for each person involved. Adults need to get a handle on their own emotions though so that they can focus their energy on meeting the needs of their children.
How you approach things with your children during the divorce process is going to affect them for the rest of their lives. With that in mind work hard to have a relationship with your ex on some level. Even if it is nothing more than a hello and goodbye when you exchange the children, the kids will notice it.