Parents going through divorce often notice the trauma their children are going through at home, but may not know how the divorce is affecting the kids at school. The breakup of their parents usually causes profound upheaval that affects every facet of the child’s life, even if some of the effects take place where his or her parents cannot see.
Different children react to divorce in different ways, but it is common for younger kids to blame themselves. This internalization can turn into anxiety, depression, anger or defiance. Research suggests that children of divorce are at higher risk of behavioral problems and dropping out of school as they age, and are less likely to go to college.
The good news is, as a psychiatrist told LoHud.com, that children with strong relationships with their parents and a good family support system overall stand the best chance of coming to terms with their parents’ divorce, without damaging their relationship with their classmates or harming their academic progress. Here are some ways parents can help:
- Let your children’s parents and guidance counselors about the divorce, and watch out for behavioral changes at home.
- Talk to your kids about the divorce, and let them know their feelings are valid. A therapist or school counselor can help the children manage their emotions.
- Have clear rules about the child’s routine, such as TV time and when homework must be done, and stick to it.
- Ideally, both parents will continue to be involved in their children’s education. If they can, they should attend parent-teacher conferences together, or at least meet with the teacher separately.
Children can survive divorce, with the help and support of their parents. And in many cases, the divorce will actually benefit the kids in the long run, as opposed to having them live in a tense, unhappy household.