A subtle problem that can develop when families are going through a divorce is that of “filling in the gaps,” or children attempting to fix what they see is wrong with their families. Children who do this may be at risk of developmental issues that can plague them for life. As you seek a divorce, it is very important to recognize that your children may try to smooth the transition and protect their parents by attempting to take on adult roles. Be prepared for this and recognize it when it happens.
Examples of common behavior that your children may exhibit during and after a divorce include:
- Taking on adult household tasks. You may find your children attempting to clean your new apartment or offering advice on managing your money. While this may seem “cute” to you, it is actually a sign that your children are frightened about your ability to handle life on your own. It may be a good idea to offer some reassurance to them that, while you appreciate their help, you have a plan to handle any issues that may arise. It may also help to work together on some things, giving the children a role that they can handle.
- Taking on adult emotions. It is especially common for opposite-gender children to try to fulfill emotional needs for their parents. Therefore, a young boy tries to become the “man of the house” while a girl may become “little mommy” and discipline her younger siblings. While some of this is natural for children as they mature and try on adult roles, it is important to keep them from becoming too invested in adult emotions. Kids need time to be kids.
- Pulling away from the family. Sometimes the emotional stress of a divorce is just too much for children and they will pull away and try to be independent. This is just as bad as being too invested, so it is important to include children in all your activities.
If you are seeing problems developing with your children as a result of your divorce, be sure to seek professional counseling for you and your family. Nothing is more important than the health and welfare of your children.
The attorneys at the Men’s Legal Center can work with you to create a solid visitation agreement that allows both you and your ex-spouse time with your children. For more information, contact the Men’s Legal Center today.