More than half of the couples that separate already have children. These are the most affected in the separation process. Though couples claim they’d do anything for their kids, they hardly think deeply about the effects of separation on kids before deciding to part ways. They are consumed by the overriding urge to break up and be done with each other.
Psychological problems in most adults can be traced to their upbringing as kids. And one of the biggest causes of that is the conflict at home between the parents. The problems are multiplied exponentially if the conflicts lead to a separation. There is no getting round that.
So what are the fundamental effects of separation on kids?
Effects of separation on kids
Kids blame themselves
The kids understand that something is not right but as they don’t understand its causes; they tend to blame themself unconsciously. The problem is more pronounced in a family with only one kid.
A single kid has no one to share the burden of blame. So, subconsciously, everything is on them. This would definitely affect their academic and social life. School work are neglected or are not taken seriously. Socially, they can spiral in many negative directions:
- They become sullen and embrace solitude
- They can turn into trouble makers picking up fights constantly
- They become rude to adults
They psyche is affected
The identity of the child is made up in equal measures, of the DNA of both parents.
When a parent speaks against his or her spouse, it is devastating in the child’s mind because the love of their parents is distorted. In child psychology, this is called Parental Alienation Syndrome. It refers to the confusion kids feel when they see people they looked up and love hurting each other.
The pertinent issue for the kid is who to support. And since couples try to shield kids from the problems in the relationship, the kids’ decision might be based on the wrong premise.
The emotional impact
Studies have shown that most kids who end up with psychological problems have unresolved emotional problems. And the emotional state of the children directly affects their behavior. Couples are so focused on the conflicts between them that they often forget the child’s presence as well as their emotional needs.
Most times the conflict between the couple can completely consume them as they try to advance their respective self-interest. Watching parents have a go at each other is never a good thing for kids.
Some kids deal with the turmoil inside by causing grievous harm to themselves. It is just a way of reminding the parents about their responsibilities. It is simply a cry for help.
Managing the effects of separation on kids
Be open to the kids
Sometimes all kids need from parents is to be treated like intelligent human beings who can be trusted to handle complex issues.
Shielding the truth from kids is always counter-productive. One of the simplest ways to manage the situation is to sit them down and carefully explain what is about to happen. It is best if both parents do this together so the kids know the decision to separate is mutual.
Make them understand in a simple way that as adults, separation is the best option; but as parents, you two would always give them all the love, support and care they desire. Emphasize the fact that nothing is going to change in how you treat them
Don’t make impossible promises, be honest
You might want to placate the kids by making impossible promises to them. That is understandable but it is completely wrong. Remember, you are dealing with them with respect, don’t complicate the situation by adding well-intentioned lies to the mix.
Other ways of managing the problem includes:
- Do not involve the children in the conflicts.
- Establish agreements for visits and child rearing; inform the kids of the arrangements
- Encourage the kids to adequately express emotions or feelings that may be bothering them.
- If necessary, make an appointment with a child specialist to help the kids vent their grief and adapt to the changes
- Make it clear to them that they are not in any way responsible for the problems that led to the impending separation.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to do everything possible to make sure the kids grow up into well-adjusted adults. A separation or divorce complicates an already difficult life for them. So you must pull out all the stops to make the transition easier for them.