Helping Children with Divorce: A Conversation with Judy Berkowitz of Kids In The Middle® (Part 2)

children and divorceJudy Berkowitz is the executive director of Kids In The Middle®, a nonprofit organization that helps children, parents and families thrive during and after divorce through counseling, education and support.

In Part 2 of our interview with Berkowitz, we talk about the effects of divorce on children, why children of divorce should seek professional help to deal with this critical stage in their lives, and a list of what kids need and what hurts kids during a divorce.

In case you missed it, click here to read Part 1 that discussed the history, services and benefits of Kids In The Middle.

A lot of times people are worried about the effects a divorce will have on them and their lives, but what about the effects a divorce has on children?

First of all, people will ask me, “How do I know if my child is affected by divorce?” My answer is every child is affected by divorce. If mom and dad are both affected, then of course children are. The outcomes of the children getting through this process are directly related to the level of conflict between the parents.

Children will be presented with loneliness and fear, such as they’re worried about their mom crying all the time or worried about what’s going to happen to them. They are anxious, depressed, might have trouble sleeping or their schoolwork suffers. Sometimes their patterns change such as reverting to old habits like sucking their thumbs again.

Sometimes the opposite behaviors will occur. The child may act like the perfect, ideal child and show no symptoms at all. They’re trying to be perfecting thinking if he or she is perfect then maybe mom and dad will get back together. They’re acting like the divorce is their fault.

 

What might happen to a child who goes through this stage in life and doesn’t get professional help to help deal with the emotions?

They’re forced to deal with their emotions, thoughts and beliefs by themselves. Negative outcomes might be the inability to form intimate relationships later in life, doing poorly in school, engage in more risky behaviors such as doing drugs, they might feel depressed or guilty. Children of divorce are also more likely to divorce themselves.

 

Courtesy of Kids In The Middle website

What Kids Need

Kids need to:

  • Express love for both parents.
  • Remain connected to both parents’ families.
  • Remain involved in both parents’ lives.
  • Express their feelings.
  • Be in a stable, safe environment.
  • Remain a child and not a parental confidant.
  • Be told about family changes such as moving.
  • Be loved unconditionally.

What Hurts Kids

Kids should not:

  • Be put in the position of a message carrier.
  • Be asked to be the family spy.
  • Be told negative information about either parent
  • Be interrogated after a visit with the other parent.
  • Be used as a weapon against the other parent.
  • Be exposed to conflict between the parents.
  • Feel responsible for the parents’ divorce.
  • Be burdened with adult issues such as court proceedings, dating, or finances.

 

Kids In The Middle® is a proud member of the United Way. You can also become a fan on Facebook by searching for Kids In The Middle.

In case you missed it, click here to read Part 1 that discussed the history, services and benefits of Kids In The Middle.

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