Divorce Stress on Children
Marriage is one of the most essential correlations in our lives. Each one of us needs the love, care, security, intimacy and belongingness that come from marital relationships and family life. Loss of such relationships in any way causes stress and emotional turmoil for adults and kids alike. Divorce or separation of parents affects the kids most and this could be one of the major reasons of stress in their life. Reaction to divorce depends on the childís age, nature, character and the circumstances surrounding the split. Many children feel miserable, irritated, angry and restless since their basic security system has vanquished and this makes them feel insecure. Children may behave strangely at certain times and this can be attributed to the stress and tension they face during tough times.
Stress signals- Children of varied age group respond differently to stress and you can identify their stress by following their behavior closely.
Infants- Infants demand regularity and uniformity and even a little change in their routine may distress them. Unpredictable changes in schedule, several transitions or unexpected parting may affect the child and it results in increased amounts of fussiness, crying, wailing or clinginess.
Age group 2-5 years- Children of this age group understand the meaning of relationship very well and do respond to such stressful situations in a strange way. They may get angry with their parents, throw tantrums, cry out aloud and engage in power struggle. Children of this age group usually remember the other parent a lot and feel their absence miserably.
Age group 6-9- Children of this age group express feelings of sorrow, fear, fury or aggression. They may find it difficult to adjust in school with friends and mates and are unable to concentrate in their studies. Stress may also be conveyed in the form of physical problems such as body aches etc.
Age group 10-13- Pre-teens tend to be more independent and studies, games, friendships and community interests take up most of their time. But if the child feels stressed due to familial problems he/she may experience trouble in adjusting with classmates, seclusion, anger, gloominess or frustration.
Age group 14-18- Teens may rather become indifferent to their parentsí problems and may stop worrying about them. But if they are affected by the prevailing tension they may exhibit behavior problem, depression, poor grades in school, fighting with mates or may get involved in illegal acts like alcohol, smoking or drugs etc.
Reducing the stress- It is important for divorcing parents to understand the kind of stress children face and they need to put in extra effort to help their kids to cope up with their separation. Parents must try to minimize the tension at home, be more patient and answering to kidís concerns honestly. Divorcing parents must try and maintain a civil and an amicable relationship for the sake of their children. Disagreement between parents- whether they are divorced, separated or still living together causes a lot of stress for children and can leave a lasting impression on their tender minds and hearts.
In a nutshell, the conversation should be tailored according to the childís age and his understanding of the situation and the message should be clear that whatsoever happened between the parents is not going to affect their love and affection for the kids.