Sometimes, obvious difficulties are easier to deal with than circumstances that appear to be calm, cool and controlled–at least on the surface. This is often the case for children whose parents are going through an amicable divorce. Where are the arguments? The hurt feelings? If there is day-to-day discord, if one parent or the other has become a tyrant or if there is outright abuse, the children may be as willing as the grownups to get out of a bad situation. However, a friendly divorce between two people who have always been loving and responsible parents is a situation that children may find difficult to accept, and they may behave in the following ways.
Children think the divorce is their fault
You and your spouse may be very good at hiding whatever it is that has caused you to split up. An extramarital affair or a drinking or gambling problem may be the cause, or there may be career conflicts. If you feel it is not appropriate to share the real reasons for divorce with your kids, you may simply say that you both have grown apart, that you no longer share the same interests or goals. Your kids may not buy such a lame excuse, however. They may conclude that something they have done caused the divorce; teens are especially prone to this kind of thinking.
Children fantasize about reconciliation
Small children especially tend to hide their feelings in a fairytale idea in which you and your ex will eventually reconcile, finding that you simply cannot live without each other. They may even try to bring it about by trying to arrange situations where the two of you need to come together to talk. They may also try to sabotage a new friendship that appears to threaten the reconciliation concept.
Children make threats
When they see that none of their strategies seem to be working, they may turn to anger and threats. Smaller kids may say that they hate you and threaten to run away. Bigger kids may become sullen, uncooperative and accusatory. Over time, they may decide that one of you is a bad guy and say awful things to you. Deep inside they may worry that since you divorced each other, there is nothing stopping you from divorcing them too.
You can help them turn the page
The structure of the family unit may have changed, but the children represent a bond between you and your ex that will endure for a lifetime. Helping your children adjust to your divorce is going to take a great deal of effort by both of you, including many serious discussions. You will need to listen carefully and interpret what you are hearing at times to find out what the children are thinking and where the real problems lie so you can find solutions.
Through a sound parenting plan and an abundance of love and patience, your children will eventually adjust to this new chapter in their lives. If they never quite understand the reasons for your divorce, they may at least come to respect the decision you made. You can contact a family law attorney for more information or questions about your situation.