Life After Divorce

Source: Healthy Children.org

When a divorce occurs, the family generally moves through a series of stages: In the pre-divorce period, as spouses argue and the distance between them grows, children may be caught up in the marital conflict, either directly or indirectly, and may exhibit acting-out behavior like fighting, disobeying, talking back, and crying for no reason. Then, during the separation phase, as one of the spouses leaves the household, children in the middle years may feel quite insecure with the disruptions in their daily routines, with one parent no longer around to pick them up from school, help them with their homework, or tuck them in at night.

As the initial turmoil subsies, the adjustment period begins, and children start to cope with their new life circumstances, including new routines, visiting schedules, living arrangements (two homes instead of one), and perhaps a mother who has gone back to work. Frequently, the income and financial resources of the custodial parent (usually the mother)decrease during this time. This economic hardship can make the child’s emotional adjustment to divorce even more difficult, particularly if his parents argue a lot about financial matters (and about other issues too). Failure to pay child support is an all-too-common occurrence that can place stress on the entire family and prolong the adjustment process.

Sometimes parents are so caught up in grieving over the loss of their marriage and what it represented for them that they are paralyzed into inaction. Professional help my be necessary to get the family’s adjustment and recovery back on track.

Next, during the reorganization period, both children and parents reach a new equilibrium and the youngsters feel more stable. Finally, remarriage may force new adjustments, with children feeling insecure until they sense that their parent is still emotionally available to them.

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