Recession, Divorce and Children

The recession is putting stress on families in wide and varying ways. The waves of anxiety emanating from family financial woes are profoundly felt by everyone. The toll these times take on marriages is one good example. And along that same continuum, economic stress can significantly impact divorces. Not only does it contribute to an increase in divorce, but it can add additional trouble the two households a divorce has already created. When one or both divorce households are experiencing financial strain, it will almost always affect the other. And often the children are the forgotten victims of the marriage and/or economic fallout.

Divorce has become so common that we tend to forget its profound impact on the children. As The Economist.com article , Dragon’s Den, points out, children are often left to deal with their own stresses and strains. The article focuses on the practice of well-regarded British psychotherapist, JULIE LYNN EVANS, who has written the book, What About the Children? How to Help Children Survive Separation and Divorce. (Bantam Press).

Ms. Evans sees children going through divorce and says that these children are almost always in more distress than their parents realize. This distress can manifest in a wide variety of disturbing behaviors—including clinginess, rudeness, destructiveness or attention-seeking.

What she advises is that parents endeavor to be self-disciplined about their actions toward and communications with their spouses, so that their children do not bear witness to any negativity or animosity. Her bottom line here is that children deserve two parents. “Poisoning their mind against one of them is ‘stealing’ part of a child’s ‘natural physical, emotional and spiritual inheritance’.”

She also emphasizes that the entire family needs a very deliberate support system of outsiders to help it heal. Grandparents, neighbors, friends, teachers, counselors and others can “offer children windows of happiness in an otherwise bleak week”. Parents should not underestimate the value to children of this added involvement by people who care. children need others to turn to when they feel they cannot cope on their own or when the world becomes unbearable.

These are truths divorcing parents may know but forget in the midst of their own pain and struggle. If you or someone dear to you is going through a divorce right now—you can be the non-judgmental harbinger of this vital reminder—What about the kids??

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