With the rates of family and marriage issues on a rise (e.g. divorce, polygamy, step-parenting), it’s important that parents view the impact of these marital conflicts in the eyes of a child.
Children from broken homes or have grown up in an unstable environment are twice as likely to develop serious behavioural problems. Researchers who tracked nearly 13, 500 children from birth to age seven found living with family and marriage issues doubled a youngster’s risk of developing:
1. Emotional problems
2. Poor behavior
To avoid from letting your children feel the short-term effects (burdered, less cared for) and long-term effects (continuing to suffer from serious behavioural problems well into adulthood), parents must remember that a child’s world is a small one where his or her parents are pillars.
Inflicting adult hardships (whether directly or indirectly) such as anger, sadness, depression, opposition, aggression, non-compliance, interpersonal conflict, resentment, so on and so forth upon a child that have not yet developed the skills to understand it will only cause a vortex of great stress to his or her life. Do not try to enlist the child as an ally, spy, or messenger. Children love both parents by the entirety. A child asked to take sides faces divided loyalties that can tear him or her apart.
“It’s my fault that daddy and mommy are like this now.”
“I just wish someone could make all of this go away.”
“Why is my family not like other families?”
Parents need to remember that the child comes first. And also distinguish between the marital relationship, which is either disorganized or ending, and the parental relationship, which endures. Children are honest about what they see and experience, and they are able to describe how they perceive what is going on around them. While parents will need to be honest and walk their child through the entire process, they must not speak poorly of each other or of the impending family or marriage issue in the presence of their children.
Don’t trap your child in the middle. A child does not see his father or mother as husband or wife sees a spouse. Under the right parental conditions, a child will and can grow up just fine. Parents just need to work together as much as possible for the well-being of the children to limit the damage these issues can have on children.