In general, divorce or separation from a couple is an experience, which can cause discomfort and frustration for those affected, including children. The reasons for the separation can have negative consequences for children or adolescents, since their role is merely passive , and they become victims, when the behavior of their parents during the separation is inappropriate.
In many cases, the divorce of the parents is the best alternative that can be carried out, especially if the couple enters a loop of frequent arguments, therefore making the decision to separate is not always a negative thing for the children. However, when there are continuous separations and reconciliations between the parents, negative emotions usually appear in the children , as they live with the hope that the relationship will be strengthened or with the frustration that their family may break up at any time.
SEPARATION IS NOT ALWAYS NEGATIVE FOR CHILDREN, BUT SUBSEQUENT CHANGES ARE
When a couple separation occurs, the characteristics of the family change and all members are forced to reorganize their rights, obligations and family relationships, to achieve an adequate adaptation .
WHEN THE CHILDREN OF A SEPARATED COUPLE ARE IN THE ADOLESCENT STAGE
During adolescence, the feeling of loss manifests itself through behavior, showing the adolescent a bit rebellious, experiencing a feeling of emptiness, having difficulty concentrating, etc. However, these reactions are usually common during adolescence, as they are linked to the fact of feeling that they have lost their childhood and with it the security that that stage had provided. On the other hand, when the adolescent is faced with a separation or divorce from his parents, he experiences a series of significant emotional and behavioral reactions such as:
– Pressure in decision-making : some children are conditioned by their parents to decide with whom they want to live and when they will visit the parent who is outside the family home. Sometimes, they do not take sides with either parent and behave in a responsible and “adult” way, understanding the separation with the best possible attitude.
– Loss of childhood : it may happen that if the couple has more than one child, they place greater responsibilities on their children vis-à-vis their younger siblings and are subject to claims, expressed by one of the parents, that they are in a situation emotionally dependent.
– Internal conflicts : sometimes, the fact of dividing their time, to spend it with both parents, can produce a conflict between the desire to see the parent with whom they do not live and continuing to make plans with their friends and colleagues. In some cases, the adolescent tends to get angry and his reaction is to release his annoyance at the separation from his parents through frequent arguments.
– Concern about money : some adolescents tend to take advantage of the divorce situation, to pressure their parents and make them feel bad, in order to compensate them with greater material generosity.
– Greater awareness : adolescents better understand the situation of separation and negative behaviors may appear when their parents bond with new partners. Jealousy of the new partner of one of the parents may even appear.
– The appearance of internalizing behaviors : refusal to communicate, withdrawal, introversion, anxiety, etc.
– Or externalized behaviors : theft, drug use , violent behavior in front of their peers, etc.
– Feeling of internal discomfort , which can manifest itself through sleep or concentration problems, decreased academic performance, feelings of apathy and poor motivation to achieve, etc.
– Living in a divorce situation can provoke two types of fear in adolescents : either the fear of establishing long-term romantic relationships, or the need to find a partner for life, due to the fear of feeling alone, generating conformity facing the relationship and the need to establish a new relationship when experiencing a breakup.
HOW CAN THESE EFFECTS BE AVOIDED OR REDUCED?
It is inevitable that the adolescent experiences negative emotions when there is a breakdown between the parents. Like all human beings, in the face of any change, they will need a time of adaptation that must be respected. However, and as mentioned above, the way the parents cope with the separation is crucial , so that the adolescent can go through this change with the best possible attitude. To do this, we provide a series of guidelines that we consider appropriate, when a couple with adolescent children divorces:
1. The first step is to establish a conversation with the adolescent about the break that is going to occur between the parents. It is important that this conversation takes place weeks before carrying out all the divorce proceedings, although the adolescent may suspect the separation, it is convenient that the [quotei] The children should know the reasons for the breakup [/ quotei] feel that they are has taken into account. The family communicationit is the key to their consolidation and to provide emotional security for their children. In addition, it will influence the management of their emotions, a skill that the adolescent must acquire, accepting the permanent nature of the separation, facing anger or rage of not having been able to do anything to fix the situation and, most importantly, understand the break of his parents’ relationship.
2. With regard to the issues that concern him, parents must always take into account the opinion of the adolescent, making him an accomplice of the family dynamics that will develop from the breakup.
3. Both parents must always be available to help their children determine their own decisions, establishing active listening and generating joint reflection. In other words, offer solid confidence for any questions or concerns that arise in the minds of your children, assuring them that their needs will always be covered .
4. The reasons for the break up should be communicated explicitly, without blaming any family member. If the shortcomings of a parent come to light, it is important to also point out their positive qualities. Teenagers highly value the sincerity that parents show, and will understand the reasons for separation that arise. This will help them to consider that the new situation is the best solution for a problem that cannot be solved in any other way.
5. The best adaptation to the new situation for the adolescent is the absence of conflicts or disputes between the people he loves. Therefore, we encourage the use of dialogue to clarify the personal interests of the parents, thus avoiding any type of discussion.
6. Much research highlights the importance for children of being able to continue to have both parents and that they are able to collaborate with each other in what affects them. Therefore, on the one hand, regular and frequent contact must be maintained with the parent who leaves the family home and, on the other, maintain the relationship with the two parents, unless it is detrimental due to risk or real damage to the children .
7. Do not allow, as far as possible, the change in the daily routine of the adolescent, both at home and at school. This can increase feelings of loss, confusion, and tension.
8. Do not overlook behaviors or attitudes that would not have been consented to before the separation, avoiding any overprotective or permissive behavior , since this can generate a capricious and demanding behavior in the adolescent.
Not all of us are prepared to deal with difficult situations in the best possible way. Many parents feel at a loss when it comes to treating their children. The important thing is not to feel guilty about the situation that has arisen, and always bear in mind that the separation of the couple should not affect the relationship with the children, because the way in which they suffer the family fracture depends on the behavior that your parents manifest at home.