Children In Divorce And Separation: Conflict At Christmas

Posted at 02:09am on 21st December 2010

It was Christmas Eve, many years ago, when my marriage officially came to an end.A telephone call from a friend in the local pub alerted me to the fact that my husband of fifteen years was announcing, to anyone who would listen, that he was about to divorce me. That same friend delivered him home somewhat the worse for wear - and a second telephone call from his closest friend urged him to tell me what had been going on, or he would do so!

What had been "going on", of course, was an affair between the best friend's wife and my husband. (And what ensued launched me into writing and publishing a book and becoming an author.)

THE EFFECT OF DIVORCE ON CHILDREN

With the debris of more than one marital affair strewn across my marriage, it was almost a relief to know that I had reached a point of no return. Children in divorce and separation are subjected to more than enough stress and, with three failed attempts at reconciliation behind their father and me, they had suffered more than their fair share of conflict. However, the fact that it was Christmas time added to the distress.

Oddly - having slept off the worst of his drunken stupor on the sofa - when my husband broke the news to our girls on Christmas morning, their concern was for the best friend whom he'd betrayed. Perhaps too young to appreciate the travesty of deceiving a spouse, they had homed in on the one relationship that came within their experience.

The effect of divorce on children cannot be underestimated, however. And statistics show that, with all its hype and expectation of perfection, Christmas is actually a time of great stress precisely because so often those impossibly high expectations fail to deliver!

CONFLICT MANAGEMENT: SUPPORT FOR CHILDREN

So what, if anything, can be done to mitigate the pain felt by the children of divorcing parents?

  1. Many of the children of divorced parents say that they felt excluded at the time.Recognise that the stress and conflict of your divorce and separation is not solely your domain: it affects your children, too.
  2. Overwhelmingly, the divorce and separation of their parents leaves children feeling isolated and insecure. Make sure that you are not so wrapped in your own pain that you fail to recognise that of your children.
  3. Children have vivid imaginations and if they're not reassured their worst fears will take over. Talk to them calmly, honestly and openly about what's going on.
  4. One of the first questions on a child's mind, is often "What will happen to me?"Support for children should be reassuring but realistic. Ask what they want to happen, but don't abdicate your responsibilities when it comes to making decisions.
  5. Your soon-to-be ex is still the parent of your child. Dont make rash promises about how wonderful life will be without mum/dad, and above all, don't let your anger take over so that you rubbish the absent parent.
  6. The potential for the children of divorced parents to become a means of hurting your ex-spouse is vast! Never allow your children to become a punch-bag between you and their other parent.
  7. Encourage your children to talk about anything and everything that worries or concerns them. If you find it too painful, ask a trusted friend to come alongside them and befriend them.
  8. Remember Jesus is the reason for the season. Raise the bar on love, and lower your expectations in all other respects. Children in divorce are not just for Christmas! The children of divorced parents are yours for life.

RELATED CATEGORIES:

DIVORCE, REMARRIAGE & STEPFAMILIES (STEP PARENTING)
FAMILY & PARENTING

COMING SOON:

PERSONAL GROWTH & RELATIONSHIPS (inc. Personality Test & Drama Triangle)

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Author of a number of books, one a Sunday Times No 4 Bestseller, Mel Menzies offers resources to inform inspire and encourage. She is also an experienced Speaker at live events, as well as on Radio and TV. Book her here for your event.

All Royalties from Mels latest novel, A Painful Post Mortem, are for charities benefiting children worldwide. Buy a copy here and help to raise funds for children like Rachel, who, at 13 is mother to 6 kids orphaned by AIDS, or this project, drug-proofing teenagers in the UK

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Author of a number of books, one a Sunday Times No 4 Bestseller, Mel Menzies is also an experienced Speaker at live events, as well as on Radio and TV. This article, in its original form, can be found at http://www.melmenzies.co.uk/

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