Children and Divorce – How Your Child’s Age Impacts Their Ability to Cope and Understand the Changes in Your Family

Illinois family law attorneysDivorce can be a mentally, emotionally, and financially complex process for all involved parties, but children tend to be the most vulnerable. Age, developmental stage, and family dynamics all may play a role in a child’s ability to cope and understand the changes happening within their family, and that can impact their likelihood of experiencing maladjustment during or after the divorce. Learn how you can mitigate against the adverse effects of divorce in your child, based on their age, and discover what an experienced divorce lawyer can do to help.

Infants and Toddlers

Infants and toddlers may not understand the changes that are occurring in their family during the divorce process – nor could they, really – but that does not mean they are immune from the negative effects. In fact, they may be more prone to long-term issues if there is a great deal of stress and contention during the divorce because their brains and immune systems are still developing. As such, parents should be especially diligent in protecting their child from the potential consequences of divorce. You can do this by maintaining a routine that is as close to “normal” as possible and ensuring the child has ample time with both parents (unless the environment would be considered unfit or unsafe).

Younger Children (Elementary School)

While younger children may still lack the ability to fully grasp the impact of divorce, they do typically recognize that their life is going to change. Perhaps they have a friend at school who has experienced a divorce, or maybe they have watched a family go through it on television. In either case, they may develop fears, anxieties, or worries over what life will look like once the divorce is over. Parents can help ease these concerns by being honest and straightforward with about the upcoming changes. Just be sure to keep in mind that your child does not need every detail, as this could do them more harm than good. Instead, focus on the changes that will directly impact your child and strive to ease any worries they may have over losing a parent.

Tweens and Teens (Middle School and High School)

Older children have almost undoubtedly watched a friend go through a divorce, and they have a better understanding of how relationships work. Because of this, some teens and tweens will make snap judgments about the divorce and why it has occurred. Alternatively, a child in this developmental stage may become depressed or they may develop anxiety; changes in social life and pressures, fears over the future, and contention within the family can further increase the odds of such issues. Parents can mitigate against the ill effects of divorce in tweens and teens by being open and honest about the divorce (while also being mindful of the child’s feelings for both parents), and by being supportive and listening to their child’s fears and concerns.

How Our DuPage County Divorce Lawyers Can Help

Divorce can be difficult for any couple, but those with children have additional challenges and obstacles to overcome. Life together does not simply end; it changes. You become co-parents instead of partners. Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC help you transition successfully by providing your family with the support, knowledge, and experience you need. Schedule your initial consultation with our DuPage County divorce lawyers to get started. Call 630-665-2500 today.



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