How to divorce without hurting children

More and more divorces

The number of divorces in Poland is slowly but steadily increasing. In 1950 there were 11,000 divorces, in 1990 42,000, in 2017 over 65,000[1]. This means that around 1/3 of marriages in Poland currently end in divorce. At the same time this percentage differs between cities and villages – around 22% of marriages of villagers end in divorce but in cities as much as 44%[2]. At the same time as many as 58% of divorced couples have dependent children[3].

Parents’ separation from a child’s perspective

Behavior and emotional state of parents has a huge impact on children. Of course in this matter a lot depends on the age of the child. Infants are the least aware but they will also be affected by parent’s nervousness or stress. All the more this problem concerns older children who may feel cheated, betrayed, blame the parents for the situation but also blame themselves and release their stress not only on loved ones, but also on peers. Symptoms that a child is going through this difficult period badly may include apathy, abandoning his or her interests or hobbies, reluctance to be with peers and various types of aggressive behavior.



On the other hand, parents often assume that if they cease to be unhappy after a divorce, then any bad emotions that accompany their children will also pass. Unfortunately it doesn’t have to be this way. Just because a parent is unhappy doesn’t mean that the child is unhappy and vice versa. In addition we need to remember that unlike adults children do not treat separation of parents as a “second chance”. Of course the exit from a toxic situation also gives them a chance for a better childhood but at the time of separation it is very painful for them. Even more if they not understand the reason for the separation of parents. They feel that they are losing their home which until now was the basis of their life. This in turn causes them to lose their sense of security and often also it results in feeling of being rejected – which applies especially to situations where one parent left the family. There is also the so-called conflict of loyalty – the child does not know on whose side he or she should stand in the conflict between parents and often chooses the parent whom he or she considers less guilty, more abandoned, more suffering (however, this does not mean that the child does not need the other parent).

How to divorce without hurting children

1. Do not fight for a child – for the right of the other parent to see him and spend time together. Remember that children unconditionally love both parents.
2. It should be explained to the child that the parents’ separation is not the child’s fault but the parents’ fault – because they were unable to form a successful relationship – and that the child’s behavior did not influence the decision to split.
3. Avoid involving the child in the conflict of parents. The child should maintain a positive image of both their parents. Therefore one should not speak badly of the other parent in the presence of the child. A child should have the right to love both of them, to be loved and to contact both parents whenever he or she wants.

Support from psychologist

Of course, putting these principles into practice can be extremely difficult. That is why in many such situations it is worth using the help of a psychologist. It is both about helping the parent and helping the child by a child psychologist – if he or she cannot cope with the parents’ separation.

 


[1] Rocznik Demograficzny 2016, Główny Urząd Statystyczny 2016.

[3] P. Szukalski, Rozwody we współczesnej Polsce – zróżnicowanie regionalne, [w:] Demografia i Gerontologia Społeczna – Biuletyn Informacyjny Nr 12 z 2016 r., http://dspace.uni.lodz.pl:8080/xmlui/bitstream/handle/11089/20358/2016-12%20Rozwody%20wojew%C3%B3dztwa.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y. Retrieved September 25, 2019.

Comments are closed.