||Subject: effects of marital separation
I am recently separated from my wife and
my kids are not handling things very well (nor am I). I try to be strong
and affectionate when I am with them because I do love them dearly. My
question to you is, have you found within your experiences that children
in this position cannot handle criticism well and flaunt you in regards to
what you have taught them in the past?
Thanks so much for sending your question.
You sound like a very caring father. It must be distressing to feel that
guidance which you have given in the past is being disregarded now. While
your love for your children has not diminished, your family situation has
Marital separation, of course, affects the
whole family, but it can be especially stressful for a child, who is
forced by circumstances to accept a situation that is not of his own
choosing. A forced and unwanted choice is always frustrating for any of us
(adults as well), and it is a maxim in psychology that "frustration
leads to aggression". Additionally, many children whose parents are
separating or divorcing are in their pre-teen or teenage years, which can
be a challenging time for many other reasons. Sometimes just keeping these
considerations in mind can help us to understand a child's behavior during
stressful experiences. It is during such times that a child most needs to
hear that we understand, even when the situation itself cannot be
changed. And it's this kind of understanding that can make all the
difference in our relationships with them.
A key ingredient at this time is
communication, which needs to include active listening, acceptance of
feelings (both positive and negative) and undivided attention. Many
families have found counseling to be very helpful. Others have benefited
from weekly "family meetings", in which both positive and
negative statements can be made safely.