There comes the point in your life where you think: enough is enough. With marriage, the same principles apply. For whatever reason triggered your decision for divorce, you’ve probably also asked yourself—‘Will this affect my child? Should we continue to be together for the sake of our children?’ Thoughts such as these may cause feelings of anxiety and worry in you. You want what’s best for your family, even if you sacrifice your feelings along the way.
According to Susan Winter, coaching professional, “relationships are organic. They shift and evolve due to circumstances. You can start off being in-love with someone, then falling into a comfortable pattern of loving them, but not necessarily feel that initial in-love spark anymore.” Deciding on divorce is a huge sacrifice for you and your spouse, but sometimes it’s also the ideal outcome out of any situation. A lot of things have to be dealt with and settled before the separation. From wealth and material belongings to the time you spend with your children should be planned and discussed beforehand. For most divorced couples workout their fair share in parenting before signing the papers because the welfare of their children always come first.
The days that follow a divorce is always rough. The magnitude of the event is just sinking in, your children adjusting to the reality of their parents no longer sharing a single roof. The cold atmosphere, tense situations, and the mood within your house are overall gloomy. It is perfectly normal. Going through a divorce isn’t a simple phenomenon. Everyone in the family is affected and involved. It’s naturally going to take some adjustments. “Divorce creates emotional turmoil for the entire family, but for kids, the situation can be quite scary, confusing, and frustrating,” says Amy Morin, LCSW. But after a month or so, you notice that your children still feel hesitant to talk to you. You realize something has changed. They might be distracted or sad all the time. What should you do?
Signs Your Child May Need A Therapist
Following a divorce, your child may feel lonely, a sense of loss, fearful and anxious, angry, rejected and even insecure. “Unfortunately, many kids will experience divorce as traumatic in part due to the parents’ fighting, blaming each other, while the kids are in the middle,” according to Michelle Farris, LMFT. How can you determine which symptoms are out of the norm and require special attention from a therapist? Here are some signs that tell you if your child needs therapy, or not:
- Your child begins exhibiting extreme behavior.
Sudden emotional outbursts like screaming, yelling and getting mad at you which they’ve never done before is usually a sign that your child may need outside intervention. Depending on your child’s age, this might be his subtle way of dealing with the confusing pool of emotions suddenly locked inside of him after the divorce.
- Your younger child shows regressive behavior.
When under extreme stress or undergoing strong emotional stress, children may regress to their childish behavior. For example, a potty-trained child may begin wetting his bed again, or a child who can feed himself chooses not to and refuses to eat until an adult feeds him. If your younger child starts showing regressive behavior, it might be a sign that he’s more affected by the divorce than he’s allowing himself to explain.
- Your child acts out of line.
When your child starts doing things out of his character, then that’s usually a warning sign that something is wrong mentally and emotionally. When a mostly quiet child suddenly becomes hyperactive and talkative, be wary. Likewise with a chatty kid swiftly growing too shy to speak. Stress manifests in different ways, and children have it especially hard. With no prior experience of how to healthily let out their emotions, these children may adopt unhealthy coping methods and outrageous, risky behavior.
- Your child isolates himself/shows disinterest in his hobbies.
Though feelings of sadness and disorientation after a divorce is commonplace when your child suddenly separates himself and shows disinterest in most, if not all, of his hobbies, then that’s something you should look out for. These are warning signs for depression and anxiety and other mental conditions that require a therapist’s help. When your child starts rejecting the company of other people and the joy of doing his hobbies, then you know something is wrong.
Seeing A Family Counselor
Help your child find a healthy outlet for his emotions, and schedule weekly sessions with a family counselor. Trust your instincts. See if the normal off-put feelings your child has been experiencing for almost a month now consequents a visit to the therapist. Family counselors specialize in working families through the divorce process and find healing in each other. It might be hard to bounce back from the emotional turmoil the process of divorce puts you and your family through. But with the help of a family counselor guiding you through, you’ll get there eventually.
Additionally, don’t wait for warning signs to show up before you take your family to weekly family counseling sessions. Therapy sessions don’t just strictly work with mental illnesses. But, attending weekly counseling sessions can also help you understand what you’re going through emotionally, mentally and psychologically. Through this, you can prevent the unresolved conflict from developing into the trauma.