A parent’s love and commitment their children make the stress and trauma of divorce particularly painful. Children will be deeply affected by a marital split, no matter what their age is when it happens or how amicable the divorce ends up being. But being able to keep communication open, as well as knowing what to watch for to identify signs of distress in the children, can be very helpful as parents navigate the emotional and psychological challenges of divorce.
Watching out for indications of distress
A child of divorce will be affected differently depending upon her age. A young child may regress or feel separation anxiety. School-aged children may withdraw, experience a drop in their grades or act out in other ways. For parents, understanding the potential warning signs and keeping themselves emotionally available to their children will help both during and after divorce.
A common reaction for school-aged kids is anger, which they may internalize or manifest by becoming anxious, withdrawn or depressed. Their self-confidence may plummet, which can affect their ability to connect socially, and a low self-image can cause their academic performance to dip of even case them to engage in risky behaviors.
Talking to children about divorce
Keeping the lines of communication open is probably the most important step that a parent can make to facilitate their child’s emotional well-being during the divorce. Some tips that can also help are:
- Talking to the children about the divorce a few weeks before any separation begins
- Assuring them that they are not responsible for what is happening
- Giving them space and encouragement to express their feelings
- Letting the schoolteacher know beforehand
Best interest of the child in Tennessee
When determining custody arrangements in Tennessee, the court will look at a number of factors based on what is in the best interests of the child, including:
- Ability of each parent to take care of the child’s physical and emotional wellbeing, and encourage a relationship with the other parent
- Each parent’s mental and physical health
- History of domestic violence or substance abuse
- The child’s wishes, if of the age of maturity
For parents who are preparing, and if necessary, fighting for their custody rights, it is important to have diligent and compassionate legal counsel serving east Tennessee to provide options moving forward.