What are kids' most common fears when parents divorce?

No matter how committed divorcing parents may be to ensuring that their children get through the process as emotionally unscathed as possible, kids nonetheless develop fears. These may stem from what they've seen their friends go through. They may come from movies or television shows or arise from fights they've seen or overheard as their parents' marriages unraveled.

It's helpful for parents to understand children's most common fears around divorce — even if they don't think these fears would be reasonable in their situation — and address them.

Whenever possible, it's important for parents to tell kids about the divorce together. This united front can go a long way toward alleviating children's anxieties.

One of the most common fears for children is that they are somehow responsible for the break-up, especially if their parents' fights sometimes involved differences in parenting styles. This can impact children's self-esteem and cause considerable guilt. Parents can alleviate this fear by explaining in a general, age-appropriate manner why they can no longer be together. Then, emphasize that the split has nothing to do with the kids.

Children are often concerned that they'll have to choose a "favorite" parent. They may have seen friends placed in the position by warring, insecure parents. It's crucial to emphasize that, no matter what the custody arrangement states, both parents will continue to be an important part of their lives. Parents shouldn't make kids feel guilty about enjoying their time with their mom or dad or get angry when kids say they miss their other parent. Those feelings are natural and shouldn't be taken personally.

Kids don't understand the complexities of relationships and often think that parents divorce because they hate each other. Parents need to assure their children that their focus now is to be there for them. They need to keep whatever ongoing conflicts they have away from their kids. Watching parents whom they've seen and heard fighting work together to be good parents can help kids learn how to overcome differences and build healthy relationships in the workplace and elsewhere as adults.

Establishing a solid parenting plan that both parents adhere to can go a long way in minimizing parenting conflicts and children's anxieties. Your New York family law attorney can help you do that.

Source: Our Family Wizard, "How To Debunk Your Child's Post-Divorce Fears," accessed Oct. 19, 2017

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