One of the most important and yet, most difficult things for a parent facing a divorce or separation is being intuitive to your children?s needs. This is particularly hard if the parent did not initiate the separation. You are swamped with your own emotions or grief, loss and anger. Getting through one day can be a chore. Seeing your children?s emotions may not even be on your radar- understandably so. However, keeping in tune with your children from the very beginning willsave all of your greater problems down the line and is well worth the effort, no matter how tiring it is.
Often times children don?t want to add to your burden and find it difficult to share the feelings of abandonment, loss and anger they are facing. Rightly or wrongly, they may be processing feelings of anger or sadness directed at you. They are also younger and less mature and often cannot really understand the feelings that are washing over them. Since they may not be able to tell you, it is important to watch for changes in behaviour as cues to what they are feeling.
The feelings and behaviours of children will vary. They may be more quiet, sad, angry or confused. Some become defiant at times, getting into bullying behaviour to vent their anger. Others become despondent, withdrawn and weepy as a means of coping. During this time of instability children may be more vulnerable to peer pressure, skipping classes, drugs/alcohol and sexual activity. Because they don?t always know how to vent or even understand their feelings, rebellious or acting out behaviour is a way to say, "I?m hurting and I don?t have a clue how to deal with it.? Kids want to know they are loved and that they belong somewhere. A divorce can shake their confidence in this area and make them vulnerable to sexual activity because "Well, at least someone really loves me.?
As difficult as these times are, if managed carefully with intuitive parenting and love, kids can recover from the difficulty of divorce and separation. If you or your family is going through this and need a little help with the process, consider visiting a marriage and family therapist in your area.By: Winnie Visser in collaboration with Sharon Osvald
Principles for Real Living:
I am responsible for my own attitude
My attitude affects my actions
I can not change others, but I can influence others
My emotions do not control my actions
Admitting my imperfections does not mean that I'm a failure
Love is the most powerful weapon for good in the world
Desperate Marriages by Gary Chapman, Northfield Publishing, Chicago 1998, 2008