Not so long ago, there was a cultural norm that insisted children should be seen and not heard. Thankfully, American culture has generally moved past this outdated approach to raising children. However, simply because children and teens are often encouraged to speak up and to express themselves does not mean that adults always understand what children and teens are feeling. As young people are still developing emotionally, it is not always easy for them to express deep, complicated feelings and thoughts.
When children and teens are told that their parents have decided to divorce, they tend to feel emotions which are complex and vulnerable. Sometimes their feelings seem to contradict each other and sometimes their feelings may even frighten them. As a result, it is important for co-parents to understand where their children are likely coming from as kids may not always be able to express themselves articulately on their own.
For example, many kids worry about the stress that divorce and co-parenting places on their parents. They may internalize their parents’ stress as their own. As a result, while it is understandable that you might worry about money, your abilities as a single parent and a host of other issues, it is important to try and relax as much as you can around your children. Worrying too much may cause your children stress by extension.
In addition, understand that children are extraordinarily perceptive. Even if you are not bad-mouthing your ex, if you act tense every time you are around him or her, your children will pick up on that tension. Similarly, if you make few efforts to remain present in your children’s lives, they will notice your lack of action as well.
Source: The Huffington Post, “8 Things Kids Of Divorce Want Parents To Know,” Brittany Wong, April 2, 2015