Your divorce may change your children. They may feel guilty and feel as though the divorce is somehow their fault. They may feel anger toward a specific parent, due to actions that they think occurred during the course of the marriage. They may feel shame, due to the social implications of the divorce that they may face in school or in their group of friends.
Whatever they may be going through, it is imperative that they do not face these feelings alone. As an active and engaged parent, you need to pay attention to what your child is going through, so that they do not distract themselves too much from their academic responsibilities.
Your child has the potential of achieving great things, whether or not you and your co-parent are married. They have the capacity of achieving academic success. However, helping them during the initial difficulty of the experience is key.
The academic achievement of children of divorce hurts most at the initial experience of the separation. According to a Bridgewater State University study, students stated that parental divorce played a factor in their academic struggles during the worst period of the situation. They also stated that the fighting over the divorce itself is not what worsens academic performance. It is the intensity of the fights that does it.
This also includes married parents. The study found that parental fighting still was attributed to a student’s inability to concentrate and subsequent academic struggles.
The presence of the struggles does not answer questions regarding why they are occurring. A study from the University of Missouri saw similarities of the academic struggles that children of divorce go through and attachment theory.
Attachment theory states that a strong emotional and physical attachment to at least one primary caregiver is critical to personal development. A child of divorce’s attachment style differs from a child whose parents stay married. This means that the earlier you intervene to the academic problems that arise, the less it will negatively impact your child’s academic future.
As difficult of an emotional hurdle parental divorce can be, it is not impossible to overcome. Your child needs to hear that they still are capable of tremendous successes both inside and outside the classroom. Depending on their age and maturity, they still are capable of adjusting to their new situation and academically achieving.
Just as they will be able to hit developmental milestones, they will be able to bounce back from the emotional distress of a parental divorce. The adjustment process varies depending on the individual, but there are ways of helping your child through the challenges they face.
Mental health professionals are trained to assist in the mental and emotional hardships that your child may be facing. As a parent, you would take your child to a doctor if they were physically ill, and during times of crippling mental and emotional distress, it is your responsibility to facilitate your child’s recovery through the assistance of a mental health professional.
Through therapy, children can return to a place, where they can regain focus. They can accept their new situation in life and set their sights on their future in school.
Talking to teachers
You also may want to inform your child’s teacher of the situation going on in their home life. Teachers also are trained to handle the various behavioral and emotional complexities associated with children experiencing a parental divorce.
They know to be mindful of any potential conflicts and work toward goals that put the child first. They keep lines of communication open with both parents, in order to benefit the child and make any necessary adjustments to the child’s school life.
If you are facing a high conflict divorce, it is possible to schedule your own separate parent-teacher conference, in order to apprise yourself of what is going on in your child’s life. However, it may be more beneficial for the child and encourage shared parenting and civil cooperation to co-exist at the same parent-teacher conference.
At the end of the day, you have to do what is necessary to help your child. Whether it is communicating with an ex-spouse that you do not get along with or enlisting the assistance of a mental health professional, you have a responsibility to put your child first at all times, regardless of your marital status.
Dan Pearce is an Online Editor for Lexicon, focusing on subjects related to the legal services of customers, Cordell & Cordell and Cordell Planning Partners. He has written countless pieces on MensDivorce.com, detailing the plight of men and fathers going through the divorce experience, as well as the issues seniors and their families experience throughout the estate planning journey on ElderCareLaw.com. Mr. Pearce has managed websites and helped create content, such as the Men’s Divorce Newsletter and the YouTube series, “Men’s Divorce Countdown.” He also has been a contributor on both the Men’s Divorce Podcast and ElderTalk with TuckerAllen.
Mr. Pearce assisted in fostering a Cordell Planning Partners practice area specific for Veterans, as they deal with the intricacies of their benefits while planning for the future. He also helped create the Cordell Planning Partners Resource Guide and the Cordell Planning Partners Guide to Alternative Residence Options, specific for seniors with questions regarding their needs and living arrangements.