Divorce is always a trauma to parents and children. However, the method parents use to divorce has the power to heal the trauma, ignore it, or perpetuate it for generations. Child-centered divorce helps parents make all decisions through the lens of stabilizing their children. Parents are encouraged to address and heal their own trauma, so they can focus as a team on the needs of their children.
A child-centered divorce will often be quicker and less expensive than going to court, so healing begins faster; and, it’s much less traumatic for children. At the time of divorce, parents are less stressed, and more intentional. This helps with what happens after divorce – the child’s lifetime of interactions with their parent will be healthier.
Child-centered divorce makes it better for both parents to be a part of their child’s life – it’s a framework meant to help divorcing parents mitigate the damages of divorce on their children.
The psychological implications a divorce can have on a child are
- Lower grades
- Disconnection & trust issues
- Lower self-esteem
- Tendency to isolate & limit social interaction
- Predispositions to divorce themselves
Child-centered divorce is an approach to avoid these negative effects and help children cope with the contentious process.
Children don’t handle conflict well, especially when it concerns their parents. They become stressed and often feel helpless in the situation. The amazing thing is that they want to help. The sad thing is that they really cannot. So while divorce is difficult and there will likely be many conflicts and barriers to overcome, it remains the parent’s role to make this as least-problematic as possible. It is for your child’s sake that you engage in child-centered divorce, and it will benefit you too.
The benefit to the child is that they won’t feel more uncomfortable than they have to through the process, as well as when life continues once you separate from your partner. For example, mentioning the other parent’s name in your presence may be something your child comes to fear based on your reactions, and as a result, they feel disconnected and the bond you share with your child may change. It’s a common occurrence with divorce, as its merely a defense mechanism. Your child has his or her own defense mechanisms, but they will create more lasting, harmful effects. The benefit of child-centered divorce for you, the parent, is that it can help you be comfortable living as a divorced parent, at least comfortable enough to help your child feel comfortable with the situation.
The parent has the coping mechanisms and ability to become comfortable in managing their divorce so as to avoid conflict-triggers and even transition to a healthy, co-parenting relationship. There are easy ways to do this. Parenting coaches have done wonders for many families. There is mediation, and of course, there is nothing that communicating and thinking about a problem won’t solve. Other resources such as Gabrielle Hartley’s book – “Better Apart” – or the “Our Happy Divorce” podcast can spark other ideas. Visit our site for much more helpful content this month on this topic.