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Separation And Divorce

How Separation And Divorce Affects Children And Youth And How To Help Them

Bitter, Contested Divorce/Separation; In Infancy; In Childhood; In Teen Years

Without sensitive help, most children & youth take years to recover from their parents’ separation(s)/divorce–even peaceful ones. Negative reactions can be expected from the children or youth when parents draw them into the adult relationship challenges. Negative reactions can also occur even when the child or youth know that separation/divorce is a good idea due to troublesome parental addiction, abandonment, violence, or mental illnesses. Without help, life-long emotional blockages and fears of love and relationship can develop. Children & youth need calm, protection, security, predictability and relaxation to grow and learn easily. Separation/divorce should be seen by adults only as a very last resort. Sometimes separation and/or divorce is a good idea. However parents set dangerous examples when they terminate relationships with hostility rather than using problem solving skills, conversation, negotiation, and honesty. The impact of separation and divorce on the children or youth can be complicated by a combination of factors, including: the child or youth’s past family traumas; depression and other mental illnesses; parents’ unresolved childhood traumas, family patterns and perceptual difficulties. Other factors can include: communication skill levels; emotional intelligence levels; prolonged anxiety, physical and/or emotional discomfort from unhealed accidents, traumas and abuses of all kinds; addictions; exhaustion; nutritional imbalances; exposure to environmental pollutants.

Bitter, contested divorce/separation:

Without help, this can be very difficult and frightening for children & youth and can set very bad examples for the child or youth’s future relationships. Unless parents are very careful, children & youth can get “caught in the middle” and are forced to “take sides” for their own emotional safety. During any separation/divorce, children & youth are suffering loss through no fault of their own and need as much reassurance as possible. Children & youth can get very stressed during these situations–often because they are helpless to stop something that affects them. Their learning can be reduced–perhaps for years. Children & youth can become very tense, confused, angry and withdrawn. Or, they can begin breaking rules at home, school and in the community. Children & youth often believe that they are the only ones in their schools to suffer from parental conflict/separation/divorce.

In infancy:

Infants do not have a verbal language to express their sense of loss; however, they can become depressed during separation/divorce. Without help, this depression can last a lifetime. Infants involved in separation/divorces need extra love, attention and touch to recover and grow. Keeping contact with both parents is important, if possible. Parents making peace is also very helpful to the child or youth’s wellbeing. Infants may stop making eye contact unless coaxed into it.

In childhood:

Children & youth can become so confused and tense during separation/divorce that their school performance can suffer for up to two years or more. It’s important for both parents to be involved with the child or youth if possible, so the the child or youth feels loved and supported. Children & youth need to be reassured that they are not to blame for the separation/divorce. Without help, they often blame themselves and this guilt can reduce their confidence and make them feel like they are bad children or youth. They then can begin to act like bad children or youth. Children & youth often lose respect for one or both of the parents during separation/divorce. Children & youth may become overwhelmed because they want to “look after” their unhappy parents. This takes energy from the child or youth living and learning fully.

In teen years:

Without help, teenagers of divorcing/separating parents can act disinterested and uncaring. They can withdraw even more than usual from the parents, becoming sullen, uncommunicative, or sarcastic and cuttingly critical. Teens can “get back” at the parents for disrupting their lives and for scaring them by becoming involved with unsavory friends and activities. Without help, teenagers can also take out their mixed emotions by hurting themselves in various ways that upset the parents.

First, We Would Investigate

Second, We Would Investigate

For Long Term Support
We Would Investigate

  • Psychotherapy
  • Expressive Arts
  • Nonviolent Communication
  • Support For Parents
  • Attitudinal Healing
  • Aikido
  • Psychiatry
  • EMDR
  • Hypnotherapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Craniosacral
  • Meditation
  • Nutrition Consulting
  • Flower Essences
  • Aromatherapy
  • Herbology
  • Homeopathy
  • Wilderness Therapy
  • Ayurveda
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Drumming
  • Music Lessons
  • Developmental Optometry
  • Precision Teaching
  • Light Therapy
  • Feldenkrais
  • Osteopathy
  • Chiropractic
  • Environmentally Healthy Homes
  • Attitudinal Healing
  • Expressive Arts
  • Flower Essences
  • Precision Teaching
  • Nonviolent Communication
  • Ayurveda
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine
  • Herbology
  • Homeopathy
  • Aromatherapy

On Our Own We Would Try: • Bedtime Stories and Chats • Wholesome Pleasures • Back Rubs And Foot Massages • Pets • Replace sodas, juices, sugars, fats, fast foods with water, veggies, whole grains, nuts, protein, fruit, slow food • Long Walks/Hikes • Nature • Less or No TV, Movies, Video/Computer Games

For Parents: • When difficulties begin to arise in relationships try to find help from wise friends, elders, religious leaders, marriage therapists. Get and try ideas from books. Parents can profit by learning to negotiate, communicate honestly and effectively as soon as possible. • Making extra eye contact is important to the child during infancy to help the child or youth have successful future relationships • If separation/divorce cannot be avoided, get into a separation/divorce support group as soon as possible. • Communicate with ex-partners as calmly as you can, as soon as possible, using Nonviolent Communication. This can help, even if only one partner does it. Eventually two way communication will be safer and less painful. Remember you have a relationship with your “ex” through your child or youth. • Parents are advised to make peace as soon as possible–for the sake of the children or youth. • Celebrate family times with your “ex” as soon as possible. Focus on whatever love and compassion there is between you. • Suffering parents are advised to get professional counseling and support, or at least to talk with some friendly adult, rather than share their misery with their child or youth.

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