Divorce is often perceived as a failure. The process of starting over can be difficult and overwhelming. A great deal of strength is required. It is rarely the ‘easy way out’.
When you have children, it becomes even more complex. While it is true some children face difficulties through this transition either emotionally or behaviourally, it is not all doom and gloom. Your daughter is not any more likely to be a crazy cat lady and your son a criminal just because their parents get divorced.
It is all going to be OK, so take a few deep breaths and relax while we discuss the positive impact of divorce on children.
It is better to live in two happy homes than one unhappy one
Your separation may have been sudden and unexpected or it may have been caused by years of unhappiness. Either way, if there is tension and arguing in the home it is not a positive environment for a child. Even if you think you are concealing the problems, kids have an uncanny way of picking up on them. Sometimes trying to save your children from a divorce can mean you sacrifice yourself and leave them feeling guilty. And, it does not necessarily mean they are happier for it. When children witness their parents being happy and confident in two separate houses it will help them feel positive about the situation. It will teach them that change can be for the better. For a child, routine, happiness, laughter and play is the best remedy for a parental breakup.
It teaches your children the values and morals you want them to uphold
You know the old the saying, actions speak louder than words. In this situation showing your little ones that you won’t settle for being unhappy and are strong enough to start over, will show them what you value and where your morals sit. It also says you can peacefully walk away from a bad situation; you don’t have to accept it at face value. People are allowed to come and go from your life as we all grow and change. Your partner should be your best friend, and you wouldn’t want your children replicating negative behaviour (either now or as an adult) because of how they see you treating your ‘friend’.
It creates a bond between siblings
One interesting outcome of divorce on children is a strong bond between siblings if they are lucky enough to have them. They are in it together, and no one understands a situation quite like someone else who is right there with you. My 5-year-old daughter has often stated adamantly she doesn’t want to stay with her father, but she always goes because she needs to look out for her older brother. If parents move on and new partners are introduced, siblings will support each other through the new transition.
Your children have a chance to build relationships with both parents
Family life can be busy, and with parents at conflict, it could be a full-time job avoiding one another. This, on top of work commitments and the daily juggle can mean quality time with one or both parents is overlooked. When you are divorced it can allow parents to spend more one on one time with your children and get to know them as individuals. If your children are in share-cared, you can use your time without them to catch-up on work/chores, meaning your time with them is more focused on them. For single mums doing it on their own, you will likely have an unbreakable connection with your children and feel like a lioness with your sense of protectiveness over your cubs.
Your children will learn empathy for others
When a child goes through a big life change such as a divorce, it teaches them empathy for others. Eventually they will understand their parents are only human and nobody is perfect. They will learn everyone is different and everyone feels pain. As an example, my 7-year-old son has a good friend at school whose parents have recently separated. He told me he asked his friend if he was OK and if he wanted to talk as he knew what he was going through. While his little buddy wasn’t quite ready to chat over coffee and cake, my son proceeded to distract him with a game of soccer. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and this can be learnt from an early age.