Updated: Jun 16
Touchy topic. But one that definitely needs to be discussed, although it doesn't get any easier to deal with, even with the passage of time. Often, divorce and/or separations involve many legal repercussions and factors. Anything from deciding what to do with the marital home, to who gets what furniture, to whose responsibility it is to deal with household pets can cause a disagreement, which can quickly dissolve into an unfriendly discussion. As partners work through paperwork and court dates, there are often little people watching from the sidelines. These little people are the children, either directly from the now-strained relationship, or the children of just one of the partners. Regardless of their ancestry or genetics, these children are part of this now broken family. The grieving and healing process is different with every child. It is never an easy circumstance to undergo a separation or divorce on an adult's end - imagine for a moment how much more difficult it is for a child.
As a general rule, it is crucial for every child's mental well-being for the relationship between separating or divorcing parents to remain supportive and positive, if at all possible. Sometimes, this simply can not be done, but often, it is in the parents' control to determine how amicable the separation or divorce will be. This level of professionalism is not something all parents realize the value of for their children, unfortunately. It can be very difficult, as a parent, to rise above your own feelings about the immediate circumstance. Regardless of how you may feel about your ex-partner, it is important that your child does not conflate your feelings or opinions with their own self-image or self-worth. This leads to a very vicious cycle of blaming all around, and this is not healthy for any child to experience. Being caught in the middle of a life event over which children have no control, such as a divorce or separation, is a milestone that needs to be handled with care. If your marriage or partnership is ending, let it end without involving your child, either as a pawn or a third-party casualty, in an all-out war. It is crucial to maintain a healthy relationship with your child throughout the process of divorce or separation, and this won't happen if you and your (ex) partner are at each other's throats over any number of issues, including parenting. Letting your child feel safe and secure in their relationship with you and your (ex) partner means protecting them from adult worries and responsibilities. This is not about shielding them from the reality of the situation - because that is just as harmful - but about setting clear boundaries about what is your problem, as opposed to what their role is within the family dynamic.
While a divorce and/or separation will not decidedly "ruin" a child, it will have long-lasting effects on them.
It is up to you, as the parent, to decide whether those effects will be more positive than negative.
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