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Divorce and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy #SoteldoPsychotherapy #Divorce

Updated: Mar 27

Two adults and a child stand in silhouette, with one adult and the child holding hands and the other adult facing away.


It is essential to ascertain what is appropriate in saying when you are planning to inform children of different ages about divorce. Although children are just "children", they deserve an honest and open revelation regarding divorce, although there is no need to reveal all the details. As the children become of age, they can be provided with comprehensive and detailed information regarding the divorce. The child's perspective regarding divorce may differ from the information they are provided with relating to divorce. The children's belief will be more in sync with what their parents inform them if the information is designed to offer them help, so the explanation should not burden the parents or seem to be blaming the partner in the marriage.

There are measures one can instill to ensure that the explanation provided is tailored to meet the needs of the children and not those of the parents. Some of the guiding tips include;

§ Children need to be reassured of their parent’s love

§ Ensure you are factual and take no sides when providing the information so as not to strain the child’s relationship with either parent

§ Think about the conversation you are planning to have with the child beforehand

§ Be empathetic with your child by putting yourself in their place, thinking of how you wish the information about divorce should be relayed to you.

What are the legalities associated with divorce and children?

It is important to understand that divorced families are still families, and the essential thing to keep in mind is to ensure that the parent's relationships with their children are not strained in the process. Vital aspects like who will have the custody of the children, financial support, and any other related issues should be decided upon promptly, with the interests of the children put first.

Legally, no framework has been designed to be in the best interest of the child, because divorce always has its challenges on the family unit. There exist several arguments, including what best custody arrangement is best suited for the child. Some people argue that equally shared custody for the children is good while others have the view that sole custody promotes stability. Who will go with what child, depending on the gender or age is always a point of contention.

While all legal measures instituted are designed to offer the best outcome for the child, there is no research-based evidence to support any particular arrangement. What has been shown to work is dependent on the family’s circumstance, irrespective of the legal outcomes or arrangements. Some of the principles that determine the best outcome for the children include the following;

§ Minimize conflict between the spouses and the children

§ Ensure you maintain consistency in all the outcomes

§ Ensure the process is simple and understandable to all parties

§ Maximize quality contact

Conflicts with a former spouse

Research relates fights between parents before, during, and after divorce with increased psychological problems experienced by the children. Such experience is usually more in instances when the children witness or overhear the happenings of such conflicts between the parents which puts them in the center of such fights. Such fights do not spare the youngest children, who also feel the tension, conflicting loyalties, and mixed messages passed by the fighting parents. In as much as disagreements are common between divorcing partners, the strain is usually felt much more by the children. Such conflicts result in anger, resentment, and pain in the children.

While parents might find relief in expressing anger, the only benefit to the child is if the parents find a working solution to the existing conflict. Former spouses should have a polite, amicable approach in an act of emotional balance to enable them properly to raise their children despite the divorce. Although some conflicts may be good for the parents, they are never good for the children, it is, therefore, important to keep children out of the fights.

Children's relationship with divorced parents

It is only beneficial to the children to have more contact with both parents only in instances when the conflicts that lead to the divorce is properly managed. In sustained fights, it is only practical that the children see one parent less, as it helps in reducing their exposure to the existing conflict.

Raquel Soteldo RP(Q), MA, ABA, PMP, CCC

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