Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Children of A House Divided

Everyone knows what happens when kids get hurt. The hitting, the sexual abuse, the name calling, and even the ignoring and what it can do to a child. But what happens more than any of these horrible things in a child's world can be almost as damaging. When parents divorce, kids hurt. There are so many questions. Why does Daddy have to leave? Why can't Mommy pick me up from school like she used to? Why do I have to be someplace else on the weekends? What will my friends say? These can be difficult transitions for a child, especially if they are still little. Even older kids will have difficulty understanding the nuances of the issues that brought down the marriage and perhaps the family. But It all goes really bad when the parents use the kids against the other. Kids are the unwitting pawns in a battle that rages on for years in some instances when marriages fail. Perhaps they have to endure hearing Dad call mom a heartless unfeeling bitch, or mom discuss how Dad managed to find his way into the neighbors house when Jimmy's Daddy wasn't home. Maybe they are the little moles for mommy to find out who Daddy is spending his nights with. Or perhaps they are told they can live with whomever they want. That last one may sound like a good idea, to give the child a choice, but it also makes the child choose between the parents, which can create huge amounts of anxiety and guilt. The may have nightmares. They may become so overwhelmed by the prospect they run away, or worse yet take drastic steps to make the pain go away. Some kids feel the divorce is their fault. If they had only been a better little boy. If only they were a prettier little girl. Remember, little kids think everything is about them. So if you are heading for the storm of divorce, take the time to do some pre-divorce family counseling. Be sure your children don't become the ammunition in the war to end your unhappy union.

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