2 Things To Look For. 3 Ways To Help

Once you’ve told your child you’re getting divorced, what’s your biggest concern? For most parents, it’s maintaining stability for their youngsters, according to marriage counselors normally polled by Wevorce.com. “Couples are most commonly concerned about the well-being of their children…” said Dr. Brenda Shoshanna, founder of Everyone Wins Mediation, in New York. According toShoshanna and the other experts, there are two additional major issues of concern for parents who were splitting up:

1. The effecta divorce would haveon the child’s behavior and their school performance.

Stephanie Burchell, Ph.D., and a licensed marriage family therapist, of Dallas, Texas, said parents worry about “the disruption of the child’s home and lifestyle, particularly when having to transfer between two different households at various times of the week. ”

Dr. Michelle New, aclinical child psychologist and founder of Kentlands Kids, a private practice in Gaithersburg, Md., said transitions caused by divorce should be made gradually: “Children need as much to stay the same as possible. Switching schools, homes may be too much for your child to handle all at once.”

2. The effect a divorce would have on the quantity of time spent with their children.

“Significant growing up will be missed when the children are with the other parent,” said Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., an Austin, Texas, author and psychologist.The problem, accordingto Price, was a separation fear. “The fact that parents will not have daily access to their children in the same way is terrifying for most. Plans should be in the best interest for their kids and not necessarily what is best for the parents.”

After those three top concerns, the counselors said parents expressed other divorce-related frustrations, but to a lesser degree. They ranged from, having the child blame their parents for the divorce, having the financial means to support their child, having different lifestyles from their former spouse and what to do when the other parent became involved in their relationship.

“Divorce can have a tremendous impact on the behavior of children,” Burchell said. “Many parents ask which scenario offers children the best outcome; staying together for the family’s sake, while sacrificing the parent’s personal happiness; or separating at the expense of the child’s development and well-being?”.

The answer from Jason Price, a licensed marriage and family therapist for the Center for Divorce Recovery in Northbrook, Ill.: “Ultimately, a healthy divorce is always better than an unhealthy marriage.”


1. Avoiding Shuttling Children Back and Forth.

Shoshanna said parents should focus parenting schedules that offer adequate time with their children.

2. Watch Children for Divorce Stress.

New advised parents to “watch their child carefully for signs of stress; changes in mood, behavior, appetite or sleep patterns” which could indicate a child may need more support.

3. Allow Children Contact to the Other Parent.

“Children should have permission in both homes to contact the other parent should need or want arise,” said Pickhardt, who suggested daily e-mail and phone calls would keep communication open.

About the authorBruce McCracken is a seasoned journalist. McCracken has an MA in communications from the University of North Texas and resides in Irving, Texas.