Children are incredibly adaptable. Their willingness to embrace change and flexibility in the face of upheaval is often quite inspiring. However, just because they can “go with the flow” in many instances, doesn’t mean that a divorce isn’t going to present them with some serious challenges.
Another issue that parents need to keep in mind is that each child is different. Where some seem strong and resilient, others may struggle terribly. So how can you tell if your child is one of the stronger ones, or one of the kids needing a little extra support and assistance?
For a child who has always been more quiet and reserved, this type of behavior in the wake of a divorce is not an issue. After all, why fix what isn’t broken? A child that has always been an attention-seeker or a dare-devil, and continues in this vein after the divorce, is usually not presenting symptoms of emotional instability.
But a mouthy dare-devil who becomes withdrawn and quiet, or a shy and studious child who becomes wildly aggressive, are children exhibiting signs of struggling with the changes. As a parent, you should take a much closer look at how that child is coping.
Realistically, most children’s behavior will not change overnight, nor will the changes be immediately drastic. For this reason, it is important that you pay close attention to how your children act in the wake of a divorce. While some anger, sorrow and confusion are perfectly normal, extended periods of depression, anxiety and low self esteem are not.
If your child begins to show signs of struggling emotionally, or exhibiting signs that their personality and psychological health is changing, you need to seek out professional help. While children, especially teenagers, are often resistant to the idea of seeing a mental health professional in order to help them cope, the long-term results of not getting help could be terrible.
Severe depression and low self esteem in teens can lead to substance abuse issues. By intervening as soon as you’re certain that your child is struggling emotionally, you may save them from years of drug and alcohol troubles.
Another classic sign that your child is struggling with your divorce is a change in grades. We aren’t talking about a child who struggled in school before the divorce, and continues to struggle afterwards. But rather, a child who had a track record of good to excellent grades in most subjects, who suddenly fails classes and gets notes from the school about their participation.
One of the ways you can address this is to schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher. Discuss what is happening at home, and explain to the teacher how the divorce has changed things at home for your family. This way, your child may be given a little extra lenience and support at school while they adjust. Additionally, it will help the teachers better understand what is happening with your child, and show your child that you are invested in their well-being.
While children, especially teenagers, often act as if they are unappreciative about your involvement in their lives, the truth is that they really do want to know that they are important to you, and that you love them and care about them.
Hopefully this has been helpful to you. Please join us next time for the second segment in this little, two-part series on how to tell if your child is struggling with your divorce. Until then, if you need help with divorce, custody or alimony issued, contact our firm at 517 866 1000. A highly skilled family law attorney is available to talk to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.