Children of Divorce by Emilie DeYoung, PhD, LMSW, ACSW
Offering a Safe Place
We recognize that family separation and divorce is very painful for children. Regardless of age, children enduring divorce often struggle with feelings of confusion, betrayal, and hopelessness. Children need a safe place to wrestle with these feelings as well as help them learn skills to adjust to changes within their family system. In spite of the difficulties associated with divorce, we are confident that children can be successful!
Even so, it is important to recognize that working with children during a divorce can be difficult because:
- Both parents typically have different opinions about the child’s behavior and the child’s needs.
- Both parents usually fear that the child’s counselor will “side with” the other parent.
- Both parents usually fear that the child’s counselor will make custody or visitation recommendations that are not in the best interest of the child or parent.
It is important to understand that your counselor is here to help. Strategies will be shared that encourage healthy co-parenting. We welcome input and involvement from both parents.
Tips for Parents
The following steps of action may help to reduce stress and allow for a smoother transition to life after divorce:
- Listen to your child’s concerns.
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings and help them label emotions.
- Provide consistency, order, and stability as much as possible during “everyday life.”
- Remind yourself and your child that divorce is an adult issue. Be careful about sharing information with your child.
- Keep your relationship with your ex-spouse civil.
- Be flexible with your parenting schedule.
- Recognize anger, anxiety, and depression in your child.
- Monitor your child’s behavior for any significant changes.
Clues that might indicate a child’s need for additional support include sleep or eating problems, poor concentration, drug or alcohol abuse, sexual promiscuity, and/or self-injury.
In order to best serve you and focus on helping your child, our counseling team has developed the following policies related to counseling:
- It is important for both parents to be aware that your child is receiving counseling.
- Both parents are invited to participate in the therapy process as much as realistically possible, at the discretion of the counselor.
- Your child’s counselor will not engage in communication with attorneys or mediators for either parent or guardian.
- Any information provided by one parent may be shared with the other parent at the discretion of the counselor.
- In order to preserve the relationship between the counselor and child, your child’s counselor will not provide custody or visitation recommendations to the court, mediator, or psychologist conducting a family psychological evaluation.
If you have any questions or concerns related to your child’s counseling, please ask your counselor. We hope to create a safe environment that is conducive to healing. Working together, we are confident that we can help children heal from the pain of divorce.