September 26, 2012

Therapy for children of divorced parents: When is it right?

Divorce can be a difficult process for both spouses, but it can be even harder on the children if there are any. While many children emerge from their parent’s divorces happy and unscathed, others may become overwhelmed with guilt, anger, fear and other emotions. This makes it important for divorced Michigan parents with joint custody of their children to evaluate whether therapy could be useful in helping their children adjust to life after divorce.

It is important to remember that children and adults generally deal with loss and grief in different ways, which can make it hard for parents to understand how their actions affect their children. The precise types of behaviors children tend to exhibit following divorce tend to vary with age.

For example, teenagers may negatively act out in response to divorce or feel the need to harshly criticize their parents’ behaviors. Conversely, preschoolers may not understand what the divorce means and might think that they caused it. These children might not want to leave either parent for fear that he or she will not return. Even infants can be affected by divorce, becoming nervous, unresponsive or even developmentally stunted in some cases.

Many of these reactions are perfectly normal and may not need the aid of a therapist. But if a child shows significantly negative change, the parents might want to consider seeking assistance. Asking guidance counselors, teachers or others familiar with a child’s behavior can be a good way of getting references and finding an effective source of help. Some schools even run workshops aimed at helping students deal with their parents’ separations and adjust to their new living situation.

Of course, working with an experienced attorney attuned to your legal needs for achieving the ideal outcome for all parties is a crucial part of the equation, too.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Does My Child Need Therapy?,” Marsha Temlock, Sept. 14, 2012