Handle with care
Children should not be made pawns when a marriage breaks up, writes FIONA SCOTT
REASSURE THEM Children need constant care and attention
The rate of divorce is on the rise in India, and in the process, the worst affected are children.
Pain, anger, confusion, hate, bitterness and self doubt are the feelings that a child, whose parents are divorced, experiences.
No matter how miserable the marriage might have been, divorce comes as a shock to children. They are scared of the future, gripped with anxiety and hurt by the rejection they feel when one parent moves out. This remains with them throughout their lives.
They begin to lose interest in social life and schoolwork. Most of the time, they blame themselves for the divorce, thinking ... `maybe if I was a better boy, mummy/papa would have stayed.'
If divorce is unavoidable, how can we make it less traumatic for the child?
Maybe a look at what you can do can help your child make the necessary but difficult adjustment.
Breaking the news
No matter how young the child is, he should be told about the divorce as gently as possible. This difficult task can be accomplished with both parents talking to the child. This is to assure him that both his mother and father will still be actively involved in his life.
It may appear necessary for parents to blame their spouses for the failed marriage, but avoid telling your child all the details. So whatever the reason, telling your child about it will only confuse him further. This will lead to the child judging the parent and taking sides. Children need to know that they have not caused the divorce. They tend to see the world from their perspective. They are overcome by guilt and think they are responsible for their parents' separation.
Children cling on to the hope that someday their parents will reunite. It is this dream that keeps them from coming to terms with reality. Facing the truth will help them deal with the pain effectively.
Fear of abandonment
Children need to be reassured that they will continue to be taken care of. Custodial rights need to be explained clearly. They should be told that the separation is from the spouse and not from the child, and that you will continue to be his/her parent.
Parents should make an effort not to fight when in the company of their children.
They need not be friends, but they can make the welfare of their children their common goal. Children should not be used as messengers for angry retorts nor asked to take sides.
Parents who do this are plain selfish and are risking their child's welfare for their own ends.
There should be as little change as possible in the life of a child who is already dealing with a stressful event. So postpone taking a new job or shifting home unless you feel confident of your child's adaptability.
Take the help of an elder person or a trusted friend to help you make your child understand and cope.
When we bring a child into the world, we do not intend to hurt it in anyway. This feeling should not end there.
Children need constant care and attention. There is no one better than a parent who can do it. If we cannot find a way out, let us, at least give our children a chance to find a silver lining in every cloud they see, by giving them hope, love and security even in the eye of a storm.
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