Children of divorce are forced to adjust to so many dramatic changes. As difficult as your divorce might be for you, at least you have the prospect of starting your life anew and escaping an unhappy relationship.
Children of divorce must reconcile the fact that their parents do not love each other anymore. Sometimes, one parent will demonize the other and attempt to engage the child in parental alienation, a serious threat to the child’s well-being.
On top of all that, children of divorce must deal with a new living situation, new routines, potentially a new school, and much more. Divorce turns their entire world upside down and puts them at risk for many different negative life outcomes.
All these changes can result in behavioral problems that can lead to larger issues if they are not addressed. How your child responds to your divorce can vary depending on their age, but here are some common behaviors to look out for that might indicate they are struggling and need more help.
Of course, the best way to make sure your child has a healthy adjustment to your divorce is by ensuring that both you and their mother remain actively involved in their life. Shared parenting is proven to be the best post-divorce arrangement for children.
With that in mind, the impetus is on you to do everything you can to make sure you receive a fair child custody decision and the best way to achieve that is by making sure you have a family law attorney fighting for fathers’ rights in your corner who will keep your child’s best interests in mind.
Some children of divorce tend to shut down, especially in social settings. In situations where they used to be lively and active, they suddenly appear shy and timid. This might be because they are feeling depressed.
It also is common for otherwise friendly children to suddenly start acting overly aggressive with their peers. This could be because they are hurt by your divorce and struggling to come to terms with those feelings of anger.
Keep an eye on your child when they are around other children. Ask close friends, family members, and your child’s teachers to be on the lookout for unusual behavior, so you can address the problem before they develop into a larger social issue.
Another common problem children of divorce often deal with is trouble sleeping. This is understandable considering the amount of stress they are under.
In addition to all the heartache of seeing their parents break up, they are trying to adapt to new routines and a new living situation. You and your ex need to work together to co-parent and establish regular routines as much as possible. Regular times to do homework, eat dinner, and get ready for bed can go a long way toward ensuring your child gets plenty of shuteye.
If your child persistently fails to get enough sleep, the problem could snowball into trouble at school and lead to other health issues.
Loss of appetite
Some kids struggling to adjust to their parents’ divorce will experience a loss of appetite. This is important to be on the lookout for because a proper diet and nutrition is critical to a child’s healthy development.
Make sure you plan ahead and prepare healthy, balanced meals for your child. (Teaching them how to cook also is a great opportunity for bonding time with Dad.) If your child tries to push away their plate, set rules so that they must eat finish their veggies before moving on to another activity.
What you can do
The most important thing you can do as a dad is be observant and conscious of how your child is acting so that you immediately recognize any abnormalities. Communicate with your child and encourage them to speak up about how they are feeling both physically and emotionally.
If you notice persistent problems in their behavior, it might be worth seeking the help of a licensed counselor or therapist. You can ask your family law attorney if they have any recommendations as it is common for them to have working relationships with mental health professionals.