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Surviving a Divorce with Children

Surviving a Divorce with Children

By M. Scott Gordon

Divorce is Stressful, Even without Kids

Deciding to divorce is stressful no matter what the circumstances might be, but divorce can be particularly difficult when children are involved.  In fact, many Chicago couples stay together for years simply to avoid putting their children through a contentious divorce.  Recent articles in the Washington Post and Time Magazine have indicated that more adults are divorcing later in life and into retirement age, largely due to parents deciding to stay together until their children are grown.

How can you survive a divorce with children?  It’s important to understand the impact that divorce can have on children, and it’s essential to understand coping mechanisms.  And when you have questions about child support, child custody, and visitation, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Chicago divorce attorney.

Impact of Divorce on Children

According to an article in Psychology Today, children in varying age groups tend to respond differently to divorce.  In short, children up to ages 8 or 9 tend to react in nearly opposite ways to adolescents between the ages of 9 and 13.  Divorce affects kids of all ages, though, including adult children.

Why does divorce affect kids so drastically?  It “introduces a massive change into the life of a boy or girl no matter what the age,” since children whose parents are going through a divorce witness a number of traumatic events, including:

  • Observing the loss of love between their parents;
  • Having to adjust to two different homes; and
  • Experiencing the “daily absence of one parent while living with the other.”

Young children are extremely dependent on their parents, and they often refuse to believe that divorce is permanent.  At the same time, young children’s short-term reactions to divorce can be quite pronounced, often involving separation anxiety, crying, clinginess, throwing tantrums, and other behavior intended to seek attention from both parents.  In short, the dependent child attempts to find ways to feel connected to the divorcing parents.

On the flip side, many adolescents respond to divorce aggressively.  Teens tend to act out, disregarding disciplinary practices of their parents and attempting to seek revenge against the parents.  The key difference, according to psychologist Carl E. Pickhardt, is that young children grieve while adolescents exercise grievances.

Pickhardt suggests that divorcing parents attempt to establish “a sense of family order and predictability.”  In practical terms, this might be done in the following ways:

  • Creating new family routines;
  • Establishing family rituals; and
  • Reassuring kids about the security of their family, regardless of divorce.

Coping with Children During Divorce

In addition to showing children that they’re still part of a family even in the midst of divorce proceedings, an article in Parents Magazine suggests some important ways of helping kids to cope with divorce.  The article suggests some of the following:

  • Make sure your children are comfortable in both homes—the home they shared with both parents and the new home that belongs to one of the spouses since separation;
  • Help your kids to understand the terms of the new custody arrangement;
  • Maintain your custody agreement amicably; and
  • Remain in a close relationship as parents, even if you are no longer close as a married couple.

Contact an Experienced Chicago Divorce Attorney

If you have questions about getting through your divorce while helping your children to cope, an experienced Chicago divorce lawyer can assist you.  Divorces don’t need to be contentious, and we can help to ensure that your divorce goes as smoothly as possible.  Contact one of our dedicated Chicago divorce attorneys at M. Scott Gordon & Associates today.