While going through a divorce an individual is likely to experience a wide range of strong emotions. Any major life change can be unsettling and leave an individual feeling scared, confused and uncertain. If a parent who is divorcing experiences these types of feelings, imagine what a child is going through. This type of thinking, empathizing with and putting a child first, is important in helping a divorcing or divorced parent understand what their child needs.
After months or even years of witnessing the fights, hearing the negative comments and living in a tense and unhappy home; a child may feel somewhat relieved when his or her parents choose to divorce. Despite these feelings, however, a child will likely experience some difficulty adjusting to a divorce and he or she desperately wants and needs certain things from both parents.
For both the sake of a shared child and one's own sanity, it's important to make every effort to co-parent effectively. What does this mean? For starters, when it comes to an ex-spouse; no more blaming, name calling, negative comments or passive-aggressive behavior. Likewise, in addition to simply refraining from acting negatively towards an ex, a good co-parent must make efforts to build a new and mutually-respectful relationship with an ex.
Additionally, a child whose parents are going through or are already divorced is likely to have some negative feelings about the whole situation. After all, there are no Disney movies in which mom and dad divorce and don't live happily ever after. It's important therefore, that each parent takes the time to spend quality one-on-one time with a child. Talking to a child about their feelings and concerns or simply being there and providing unconditional love and support is critical now and always.
Lastly, a child wants both parents to be happy. While true and lasting happiness may be difficult to attain for an individual who is going through or is recently divorce, making an active attempt to do so may help speed the healing process. Parents who are experiencing difficulty coping with or adjusting to the many life changes associated with divorce, owe it to themselves and their children to seek professional help.
Source: The Huffington Post, "3 Things Kids of Divorce Want Most," Honoree Corder, July 25, 2014