Issues children typically face after divorce

Maggie Kline, LMFT School Psychologist and Therapist, shares advice for parents on issues that children commonly face following their parents' divorce and how to best help their kids through the divorce process
Divorce And Children | Common Issues Children Face After Divorce
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Issues children typically face after divorce

Several issues that come up after parents get divorced. One of the things that's very big for children is they fantasize how they can get their parents together. Very often, especially if they were a little naughty just before the parents separated, they may think it was their fault. "If only I have gotten better grades at school", "If only I hadn't disobeyed.", "If only I hadn't talked back to dad, and my mom and dad got into a fight, they never would've left each other." So, it's important to help children know it was never their fault. That is the adults that have the problem. And that, if for sure, the parents are not considering reconciling, and it is definitely over, that one or both parents don't fantasize about getting back together. Sometimes divorce isn't mutual. And I see this happen quite a bit. One parent will leave and they keep holding on to the hope. And then the child fantasizes about the hope and really never accepts the reality of it. I can give you an example of a family ten years later, the teenager, when I asked him to draw a picture of his family, he drew the picture of his family how it was when he was 3. When his parents divorced. With this mom and dad still side by side holding hands. He never drew a picture of his new stepfamily. His stepmother and his little brother. He was totally living in a false sense. And I came to find out that the wife that was left behind, his mother, still was hoping that her ex-husband would come back. So, it's very important to tell children that it is over. That everyone is going to get through it. That it's difficult for everyone. They are going to have lots of different feelings that come up, and that you're there to help them with their feelings. Another really big issue that comes up, especially with very young children, they think the parent that left, and went to leave someplace else, divorced them too. So, it's important to make calenders with dates to keep them in touch by phone, if the parent can't come see them everyday. To let them know that the both parents, if this is true, will be involved in their lives. Kids want to know, "Who's going to take care of me?". Practical things like, "Who's going to take me to my soccer practice now?", "Who's going to take care of me after school?". So, they need to have practical information as well, especially children that are a little older and can understand that. They need to know that they're safe and that they're loved. And that it had nothing to do with them.

Maggie Kline, LMFT School Psychologist and Therapist, shares advice for parents on issues that children commonly face following their parents' divorce and how to best help their kids through the divorce process


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Maggie Kline, LMFT

School Psychologist & Therapist

Maggie Kline has been a marriage, family, and child therapist for almost 30 years, and is a retired school psychologist.  After beginning her professional career as a teacher in 1970, Maggie has continued to garner vast experience with children of all ages from pre-schoolers through teens. She uses Somatic Experiencing (SE) with individuals, couples and families in psychotherapy. She also integrates SE with art, dream work and play when helping youngsters recover from trauma. Maggie is a senior faculty member for the SE Trauma Institute, currently teaching on five continents. She has co-authored two books (listed below) with Peter A. Levine which have been translated into 11 languages,  and has also written "It Won't Hurt Forever", which was published in Mothering  Magazine in 2002.  Most recently, Maggie has originated two seminars for professionals who help traumatized children:  "SE for Kids, A Games-Based Approach" and "Conscious Connections, Providing Reparative Opportunities for Healthy Attachment". She has presented her work in schools and agencies, at conferences, and in mass disaster settings such as the Southeast Asian Tsunami and the Oslo Massacre.

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