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Divorce, child custody could lead to grief process

Understanding the impact that divorce can have on children is key to achieving a favorable outcome. Many Texas parents are concerned about how their divorce and resulting child custody changes will affect their shared children, and they are unsure how to respond to their questions and concerns. Some social scientists liken divorce to death and assert that kids will need to go through a grieving process as they come to terms with the change. The following information is given in the hopes of giving parents an idea of what to expect in the weeks and months following the announcement of their pending divorce.

In the early stages of the process, many kids go through a period of denial. They may refuse to believe that the structure of their family is about to change and may cling to the idea that things will return to normal. During this time, parents must be prepared to discuss the issue multiple times, always assuring their kids that while adult relationships sometimes change, the love between a parent and child is an unbreakable bond.

Next, many kids will go through a period of anger, as they begin to understand that their lives are going to change. This can be difficult to weather, but parents should continue to discipline their kids while also giving them plenty of love and support. Once anger has passed, some children will begin an active campaign of bargaining, in the belief that they can influence their parents' decision to divorce by offering to improve behavior or make other changes. This is a good time to discuss the fact that the children played no role in the decision to divorce and, therefore, cannot bargain for the family to remain intact.

Finally, children will enter the stage of acceptance, where they will begin to understand that the structure of the family is about to change. This is a great chance to redirect the focus toward the positive changes to come, which can be a relief to all involved. Once kids understand that their living arrangements will soon change, they are often acutely interested in how those changes will affect their daily lives. This gives Texas parents the chance to emphasize the positive aspects of divorce and child custody.

Source:, "Children Go Through the Grief Cycle During Divorce or Separation", Lisa Poppe, May 13, 2015

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