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Dealing with common fears of children of divorce

Responsible divorcing parents are conscientious about working to alleviate their children's fears and anxieties. However, unless children communicate their fears to their parents, they may not realize what is concerning their kids.

Some common fears felt by children of divorce may seem wildly unreasonable to their parents, particularly if they have an amicable relationship. However, those fears may be based on what they've heard from friends about their parents' divorces or what they've seen on TV or in movies.

These fears can be very real and need to be addressed. Following are a few widely-held ones and how you and your co-parent can assuage them.

They caused their parents' break-up.

Children don't understand the intricacies of relationships and the many reasons they why end. They've likely heard their parents arguing about decisions regarding them, as all parents do. They may think back on all the times they did something wrong. It's not unreasonable to them that the break-up was at least partially their fault.

Parents can nip this in the bud by telling their kids about the break-up together. Without going into detail, discuss your reasons in an age-appropriate manner. Let them ask any questions they have.

They'll have to choose one parent over another.

This fear can be exacerbated if one or both parents make their kids feel guilty for spending time with the other parent (even though it's part of the parenting plan) and for enjoying themselves. Don't make them feel bad that they're leaving you alone. Be positive about their time with their other parent and let them share their experiences with you.

They think their parents hate each other.

Many children believe this -- particularly if they've seen their parents fighting while they were together and continuing to fight now that they're living separately. There may be times when co-parents really do hate each other.

However, it's essential to keep this conflict away from your children's view or earshot. If you and your ex have serious disagreements about parenting or if past marital conflicts are spilling over into your parenting, a detailed parenting plan can be an important tool for resolving disputes and preventing miscommunications that can exacerbate conflicts.

Your family law attorney can work to help you draft or amend a plan that will help lower the temperature on your relationship with your ex and let you both focus on being good co-parents.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "How To Debunk Your Child's Post-Divorce Fears," accessed Jan. 03, 2018

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