If you’re like most parents, your main concern during divorce is your children. You want them to come out of the divorce as happy and healthy as possible – and sometimes that means taking them to see a therapist.
So how can you tell if your children need to talk to someone besides you or their peers during your split?
Here’s what you need to know.
Should Your Kids See a Therapist During Your Divorce?
First things first: Nearly everyone can benefit from talking to a counselor or therapist during stressful situations (like divorce). Your children – and you, as well – may find that talking to someone who’s trained to help others cope with divorce is tremendously helpful.
If your kids express a desire to talk to a counselor, that’s great. However, kids don’t always come right out and say what they need – in fact, they may not even know what they need, so it’s up to you to figure it out.
You know your kids better than anyone else does, so you’re more qualified than you might think. Kids who are under stress exhibit pretty clear-cut symptoms, but no two kids are the same – so your parental instincts can tell you when you need to step in.
In pre-teens, watch for signs like:
- Aggression or opposition to authority
- Concentration problems
- Declining school performance
- Frequent nightmares
- Frequent physical aches and pains
- Severe worry or anxiety
- Threats of self-harm or suicide
If your child threatens or tries to harm him- or herself, it’s absolutely essential that you talk to a therapist or counselor immediately.
In teens, watch for signs like:
- Acting out
- Frequent angry outbursts
- Severe mood swings
- Self-harm or threats of it
- Unusual thoughts, beliefs, feelings or behaviors
- Using alcohol or drugs
You can also try to head off issues by seeing a counselor or therapist before you see any signs and symptoms that your children aren’t coping well. While kids might put up a fight – many do, so you’re not alone – that doesn’t mean you should give up if you think they need help. You can let your kids’ therapist know if they’re not really willing to participate in counseling, and the counselor will take it from there.
Does Divorce Harm Kids?
Numerous studies have shown that children of divorce are completely capable of bouncing back – and in many cases, they become stronger and more emotionally resilient than they were before. The vast majority of children have no lasting damage from divorce. They grow up to have normal relationships – despite what their parents worry about – and end up doing just fine.
Kids do go through stress during the divorce, though. It’s a time of big changes, so it’s only natural that they’ll need to decompress.
You can make things easier on your children by:
- Sharing only age-appropriate answers when they ask questions. Don’t go into details that your children don’t need to know – and certainly never bad-mouth their other parent, even if he or she is completely at-fault for your current situation.
- Refusing to use your kids as messengers. Don’t ask them to carry messages back and forth between you and your ex, because that’s not fair. If you need to communicate with your ex, you can do so in person, over the phone, through text or through email.
- Keeping them on a reasonably similar schedule. Kids thrive on routine, which means keeping their schedules as close as they were to pre-divorce schedules is a great idea. Other things are changing, so you want to keep as many things the same as possible.
- Co-parenting with your ex. Try to keep rules consistent between both households. You don’t have to consult your ex to make small decisions, but if you can, try to let your kids know that even though you aren’t living together, you’re both still their parents.
Do You Need to Talk to a Stockton Divorce Lawyer?
If you’re contemplating divorce, or if your ex has already filed the paperwork, we may be able to help you. We can also refer you to a counselor or therapist who’s experienced in working with divorcing families.
Call us right away at (209) 546-6870 or get in touch with a Stockton divorce attorney online to schedule a consultation today.