A guest article by Ed from Simpson Sissons & Brooke Solicitors in Sheffield, England.
Going through a divorce is an extremely difficult time for everybody involved, and it can be especially stressful and emotionally draining if you have children. If you’re getting a divorce you’re likely to be under a lot of pressure and going through a lot of difficult emotions yourself, and on top of this you’re likely to be worrying about how the divorce will affect your children. Although parental separation and divorce can have negative consequences for children, there is no research to indicate that children of divorce will always achieve less, or are less secure and happy than children of parents who have stayed together. Research indicates that the determining factor is how you support your child through divorce, so that it doesn’t have a long-term negative effect. Of course, there is no right or wrong in this kind of situation, and supporting your children or child on your own can be a very taxing task. This is why a number of charities exist to give both you guidance, and give your children help when going through parental break-up. This article will give a brief overview of a few charities out there.
How does Divorce affect Children?
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation short term distress at the time of separation is extremely likely, but this does not have to last and the majority of children do not experience long-term adverse effects. This being said, children who have separated parents are at higher risk of:
- Being in poverty and poor housing
- Being poorer when older
- Developing behavioural problems
- Performing less well at school
- Needing medical advice
- Developing depression and substance abuse
- Becoming sexually active, pregnant or a parent at a young age
What Can You Do?
Children’s charities emphasise the importance of good communication and continued frequent contact between children and parents in the short term experience of divorce. Explanations of why things are happening and where the other parent is going can reassure children both young and old that the parents aren’t ‘abandoning’ children in any sense, and that they still love them.
Support from certain organisations may also be appropriate, as well as keeping your child’s school informed of the situation and being aware of the kind of support they are offering. In the short term, children are likely to experience lowered self-esteem, unhappiness and potentially behavioural problems and problems with friendships. It’s your job to keep an eye out for these things and keep good communication up between you and your child.
Who can Help?
There are a number of charities out there designed specifically to help parents and children during separation.
KidsOut is a charity found in 1999 which has a real focus on bringing fun and happiness into children’s lives through activities. They run a number of different programmes to allow disadvantaged kids to tell their stories, learn new hobbies, or simply have a well deserved day out of fun.
Home-Start is a charity which seeks to support both parents and children in difficult situations in order to ensure children’s welfare. Home-Start can send support workers into people’s homes to encourage better parenting and a happier family life.
Gingerbread is a charity for single parents which aims to build a society in which single-parent families are “valued and treated equally and fairly”. They have a wealth of advice available to newly single parents.
These are just a handful of the charities out there that are available to help both you and your children as you go through divorce. What’s most frequently recommended is to seek help and support if you feel that you’re not coping. This support could be anything from getting hold of some guidance leaflets to inviting a support worker into your home. However you go about it, the main thing is to be honest, open and communicate well with your children to ensure their future health and happiness.