You expected your child to react to the news of your divorce, but not quite like this. Is this normal?
While each child is unique, they do all go through typical stages. The same is true when discussing a child’s response to divorce. Here are some common behaviors a child may exhibit in the aftermath of a parents’ divorce in Maryland:
- Toddlers and Preschoolers
Young children may not quite understand what’s happening, but they can usually feel the tension in the house. This may result in excessive whining or clinginess. They are confused, unsure, and scared. They want something familiar and may revert to the occasional baby talk, sucking a thumb, using diapers, etc.
Children in elementary school thrive on consistency. They are just beginning to learn self-sufficiency and rely on the constants in their life as they develop life skills. When the stability of the home life is disrupted, it can set back the child’s development.
Children of this age may have an especially hard time adjusting to a new routine, such as living in two separate households. They too may revert to behaviors you thought they had outgrown, such as crying when you leave or throwing tantrums. They may have trouble in school and become overly dependent on you.
- Middle School
The pre-teen years are already a turbulent time for most children. They are just beginning to discover their own identity and are often very insecure. A parents’ divorce only magnifies these issues.
Children going through puberty may question whether the parents will continue to love them; they may even blame themselves for the divorce, wondering if their behavior caused the parents to separate. You can expect a wide range of behaviors at this age. The child is confused, and his reactions may be confusing. They may be clingy one day and rebellious the next.
Older children are more aware of what is happening and why. For that reason, they may be more likely to choose sides or become aggressive or hostile toward a parent or stepparent following a Maryland divorce.
Teenagers may feel betrayed and determine that since Dad and Mom are not reliable, it’s up to them to take care of themselves. A teen’s normal quest for independence is typically accelerated by a parents’ divorce.
They may fight against long-standing family rules, thinking that since Dad and Mom broke their promise to love each other, all bets are off for any other constants, too. Rebellious behavior is common.
Keep in mind that these are generalities. You know your child best, and it’s important that you and your ex-spouse communicate regularly regarding your children and how to help them cope.
For more advice or legal help when you’re going through a divorce or custody battle in Maryland, call the experienced Maryland family lawyers of Nickelsporn and Lundin at 800-875-9700.