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Divorce & Your Child's Mental Wellbeing

View profile for Pauline Ellis
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Divorce & Your Childs Mental Wellbeing

It’s Children’s Mental Health Week at the moment (3rd – 9th Feb), and Family Solicitor Pauline Ellis looks at the mental impact of divorce on children, and how to best support them.

Divorces can be difficult, especially when there are children involved.  Alongside the devastating effects it has on the couple getting divorced, it can also cause issues that have a major impact on children in the family. 
Regardless of age, watching their family split in half can affect a child’s mental health.  It can be quite unclear as to “why mum or dad is no longer around all the time anymore?” and “why are we not doing activities together?”
An important factor for any parent to remember is that the children are going through a whole host of emotions and often feeling  lack of control over the situation, which can be quite overwhelming for them.  Therefore parents will need to be patient and take into consideration the way they act around them. 
It is extremely important to remember that children absorb everything that is said or happens around them, so if one parent is bad mouthing another, they are likely to end up copying this behaviour.
Although the situation between parents may be rather hostile due to the breakdown of the marriage, for the sake of the children’s emotional stability, communication is key. It is also extremely important that the children feel loved by both parents and do not take on the burden or start to feel that it is their fault that their parents are separating.
In 2014, Resolution carried out a survey in the UK to reveal how divorce effects families.  One of the findings was that one in five children didn’t get the exam results they were hoping for as a result of their parent’s split. 
A lot of the time, there have been cases in which parents stay together as they feel it is better for the child and then they separate when the child has left home. However, staying together for the children isn’t always the best thing to do.  Parents who are living together in an unhappy relationship, purely to please their children, will begin acting in a way that can result in damaging effects.  Ultimately, children will develop an idea of what it means to be a husband or wife from their parents example, and take that into later life. 
Everybody needs to do what is right for them and their family and initially, it is recommended that you chat to a family specialist about separating.  They will be able to guide you through the process and to signpost you to any organisations that may be able to support you, depending on your needs.

For more information on supporting your family through a divorce, speak to Pauline on 01202 315005 or email p.ellis@duttongregory.co.uk