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Children and divorce: Keep watch for signs of concern

You might have felt a bit nervous the day you informed your children that they would soon experience some big changes in life. While divorce is not uncommon in Texas or elsewhere across the country, it doesn't mean it's an easy thing to do to inform your children that this is soon going to be a reality for your family.

Children are typically quite intuitive, so it may well have been that they suspected your marriage was headed for divorce even before you and your spouse told them. Divorce doesn't have to ruin kids' lives. In fact, there are many ways you can be proactive to help them cope and keep things as peaceful as possible between you and your ex to avoid legal problems.

Kids don't always verbally express their feelings

Especially if you have several children, you've likely noticed that every child has a unique personality. One might be talkative and have no trouble telling you how he or she feels about your divorce. Another might be a bit more introverted toward the matter. The following list includes behavior changes that may be concerning if you are noticing them after you told your kids that you're filing for divorce:

  • Abrupt mood swings: Children going through puberty are often moody. However, if your child appears to be struggling to control his or her own emotions, it might mean he or she is struggling to process the idea that you're getting a divorce.
  • Spending a lot of time alone: The average Texas parent understands the challenge of trying to get kids to balance their social time with fulfilling responsibilities at home or school. If your child has stopped socializing and doesn't even want to video chat with friends, it might be because he or she is upset about your family situation.
  • Regression: Older children will sometimes regress when they are struggling to cope with life changes. If your older child is exhibiting typical young-child behaviors, such as thumb sucking, carrying a blanket or stuffed animal etc., it is definitely a sign of concern.
  • Rebellion: If your normally obedient child is sassing you or refusing to obey, it might be his or her way of dealing with the circumstances. He or she may not even realize that his or her rebellion is an emotional reaction to divorce.

Another issue that often impedes a child's ability to cope with divorce is parental conflict. You and your ex have no doubt argued within earshot of your kids at some point during marriage; however, studies show that children's stress levels increase with exposure to parental conflict.

Building a strong support network is key

Letting your children know that you love them and that your divorce is not their fault as well as allowing them to talk freely about how they're feeling at any time helps them develop the coping skills they need to move on in life. A school guidance counselor, licensed family counselor, or even a trusted adult friend or relative is a great asset to have during turbulent emotional times in your child's life as well.

As for your divorce, the sooner you resolve any type of legal problems that arise regarding child custody, child support, property division or other issues, the less likely the situation will negatively affect your kids. It's important to know how to protect your parental rights and financial interests as well as where to seek support if a problem arises that you don't feel equipped to handle on your own.

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