In the previous article we introduced the subject of how a parent could tell if their child is struggling with their divorce. Although children are often very adaptable and resilient, they sometimes have difficulty adapting to change that affects them emotionally and psychologically. And their suffering can sometimes go undetected.
In part one of this two part series we looked at the first two items on the watch list, namely their emotional stability and their school grades. In this final segment we are going to wrap it up by addressing the last two – altered behaviors as a sign of difficulties, and sibling relationships.
Changes in behavior are key. A child who was always relatively happy, who seems suddenly more weepy and exhibits greater neediness is obviously having difficulty adjusting to the changes brought on by divorce. The same applies to a child who was very outgoing and now seems withdrawn, or a child who was quite mellow in their attitudes but now has violent outbursts.
But not all children’s behavioral changes are this pronounced, which is why many of them go unnoticed for some time after the divorce. Destructive behaviors, like lashing out at classmates, intentionally breaking shared property, or stealing are easier to notice. But a child who quietly slips into a depression might be easier to miss.
Keep a close eye on how your children spend their free time. A child who has always been rather social but now seems to spend less and less time with friends may be battling depression. An adolescent who slowly becomes less outspoken, or seems more and more antisocial as time passes, may need additional support and care.
Depression, while it may not seem like such a big deal, can have a huge impact on your child’s life. Depression often results in poor grades, loss of friendships, and even substance abuse problems, like alcohol and drug use.
A child’s relationship with their siblings can tell you a lot about their emotional and mental health. Because children react in so many different ways to divorce, it is critical that you keep a close eye on how they interact with their family members. And particularly their siblings.
Another thing to be careful of is giving your older children too much jurisdiction over your younger children. This may allow them an unhealthy avenue for acting on their frustrations and resentment. Also, it is not healthy to have older children take on a parenting role, especially when they are potentially in a fragile or pressured emotional state themselves.
Hopefully this has been helpful for you, and you are able to maintain your children’s mental and emotional health during this difficult time. Remember, there is no shame in seeking out professional help if you feel overwhelmed, or are concerned that your children are not adjusting properly to your divorce. If you need any other help with family law issues, from custody and alimony concerns to personal protective orders, we are here to help you. Call 517 866 1000 at any time to speak with an experienced family law attorney.