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Better understanding your child after you have divorced

We have previously discussed the fact that nearly all children of divorced parents eventually heal from the divorce process and are no worse off in the long-run than children of married parents are on average. In fact, many children of divorced parents benefit from the experience of divorce in the sense that many become more resilient and develop better relationships with one or both parents than they would if they remained living in a house colored by constant tension.

This is important news for divorced parents to keep in mind. However, the challenges of divorce, of tension-filled child custody arrangements and of separation from one of his or her parents at any given time can wear on a child in the short-run. If left unaddressed, these challenges can do some long-term damage. As a result, it is important to understand where your child may be coming from and to provide your child with ample access to both you and perhaps a counselor in order to discuss emotions and issues as they arise.

Children of divorced parents may feel alienated from one or both parents if they feel that they look like, act like or side with one or the other at any given time. It is important to remember that children are biologically wired to both seek out and rebel against each of their parents. Taking loyalty to your child’s other parent personally may make your child feel that you now longer approve of him or her.

In addition, children of divorced parents often struggle with the feeling that they are living out of a suitcase. Even if you only see your child on weekends or in the summer, it is important for him or her to have some personal belongings that never move from one house to the other. This simple act of permanence can help children feel more grounded and more cared for.

Source: The Huffington Post, “14 Hidden Truths About Being A Child Of Divorce,” March 27, 2014

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