The Youngest Children Are the Ones Most Affected By Divorce
Too often parents discount the depth of the feelings their children have when they get a divorce. A serious misconception is that older children feel the split much harder than little ones do. You’ve heard people saying, “Well, he’s only four and doesn’t know what’s going on.” That’s been a common theory up until now when researchers at Georgetown University discovered that actually the opposite is true. Smaller children under the age of 5 are the ones who suffer the most negative effects of their parents’ divorces.
It’s probably needless to say that a child’s world is torn apart by the difficulties their parents are going through. These kids have been raised to believe that their environment is stable and the way it’s supposed to be, no matter what it’s actually like. During their youngest years, children learn to develop attachments. Early on they conclude that they are loved by their parents, that they live in a safe environment, and that they’re free to explore the world they live in. In short, they have it all figured out for themselves. That is, until something changes to make them doubt that anything is really the way they thought.
You may see the confusion they are feeling in their behavior. Unable to fully discuss the way they are feeling, they often act inappropriately. Parents who are stressed out themselves are more prone to get angry with the misbehavior, and that parental reaction reinforces the child’s sense of unease. It can be a vicious circle unless parents know some simple coping strategies and make the way easier for their little ones.
Make sure to keep your connections with your child strong. Be as honest and straightforward as you can be, and if you aren’t sure where the future is going to take you, tell them so. Just let them know that no matter what happens, you’ll be there for them. Don’t go so far as to make promises, though, which you may not be able to keep. Keep your fights and discussions with your spouse between just the two of you. Don’t make your home environment any more chaotic than it already is. You also need to make sure the child knows that your marital difficulties are in no way because of them.
Divorce is difficult for everyone involved and often brings about unwelcome changes in lifestyle. Try to keep everything as constant as possible for your children and maintain a soothing demeanor when dealing with them. Even the smallest child can get very upset when they sense that something isn’t right.