Please note that this is not legal advice. See our disclaimer.
According to studies, approximately half of American children born today will live in a single-parent household before they go to college. Some seem to adapt extremely well, particularly when custodial and noncustodial parents work cooperatively and don’t put the child in the middle of their differences. However, even if your children seem to handling the breakup of your marriage well, professionals in the counseling field believe there are benefits to be gained by providing them with an opportunity to explore and work through their feelings.
Your Child’s Reactions to Divorce
Though every child is different, studies have shown predictable patterns of behavior, generally based on the age of your children when the divorce occurs. Often, the older your child is at the time of a divorce, the more likely they are to engage in destructive behavior. A child under the age of five may feel a sense of loss and may also empathize with your sadness or pain, but they may have little or no understanding of the pain’s source. In this situation, counseling will likely be minimal, consisting primarily of reinforcement and positive role modeling by parents.
If your child is between five and eight years of age at the time of your divorce, the sadness they experience may lead to fear or insecurity. Because they don’t understand the complexity of adult relationships, they may assume that they are somehow at fault for what happened, or they may feel abandoned.
When children face divorce at an older age, their feelings of sadness are often augmented by anger and fear of rejection. Between the ages of nine and 12, this anger will most likely be manifested in their behavior toward their peers. They may get into fights, or break or steal things belonging to others. When your children experience divorce while in their teens, their anger can lead to juvenile delinquency, sexual activity, drug or alcohol abuse, or other self-destructive behavior.
The Benefits of Counseling
One of the principal benefits that counseling provides to children of all ages is a strategy for coping, not only with divorce, but with other challenges facing them. They can learn that they are not alone, that others are experiencing some of the same issues they are and have developed tools for coping. Counseling can also alleviate the loneliness that many children of divorce experience, giving them a sense of belonging, as well as an understanding that others (including their parents) care about their well-being.
Contact the Law Offices of Hornstine Law, LLC
At Hornstine Law, LLC, our attorneys work with people in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, using our knowledge, skill, experience and resources to help you get the outcome you want. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our office online or call us at 215-568-4968 (in New Jersey at 609-523-2222).