When a family breaks up, it’s hard on everyone. Sometimes the breakup occurs after lengthy periods of fighting and discontent. Other times, a breakup happens suddenly and it’s more difficult to understand why.
Family dynamics will change due to the breakup and there is quite a bit of adjustments to make. It is a challenging time that provokes a combination of emotions. These typically settle over time, but some young people find it hard to get better and they require help to deal with their feelings.
Each person affected by the family breakup will have their own feelings to deal with. They may feel, disturbed, relieved or angry with the person who made the decision to end the family unit.
Family splits can be more problematical if parts of the family have to move house. This is especially true for children if moving from the area, changing schools, and losing touch with friends is involved.
Usually, parents know their children better than anyone. This places them in a better position to make decision concerning their children’s welfare.
Part of being a parent is about making difficult decisions. This goes for any children involved because normally children are unable to comprehend or appreciate all sides of an issue. Sometimes parents feel that children should make the decision themselves concerning where they prefer to live and how often to see each parent. Here are some points to consider:
- More mature children are able to make better decisions.
- Making such a decision may place too big of a burden on less mature children who are not old enough or mature enough to handle it.
- Decisions force children to choose between their parents. This can make them feel guilty towards the parent they choose not to live with. Sometimes children select the parent they feel sorry for the most, and not the parent they feel the most at ease with or who meets their needs best.
- Usually, children want to participate in big decisions that affect their lives.
- Children generally understand that by making a decision they will upset one of their parents.
- Many times, children who try to make the decisions are doing so because they are frightened no one else will.
Knowing When to Ask for Help
There is no time limit on how long it will take to adjust to new family arrangements. Feelings will fluctuate; however, for most people time heals all wounds.
It can take weeks or months before a person can adjust to the new changes in their life. If they continue to feel down after more than a year has passed, it may be other things causing the discomfort. Feelings of depression or sadness, and a disinterest for things that was once enjoyable, may be a sign that professional help is needed.
A few reminders:
- The responsibility to a child does not end when the family breaks up.
- Parents should put the children’s needs first, before their own.
- Parents must make the difficult change from being together to being co-parents.
- A child’s needs and wishes must be listened to; however, they should not make the final decision on important matters.
- Working together for the children’s welfare is one of the most important things a parent can do after a separation.
- Maintaining contact with grandparents and other relatives will help a child feel more secure.
- Arrangements made for children must be modified as children grow and change.
- The way the separation is handled, particularly disagreements, will have a huge impact on the way children cope with their lives afterwards.
Getting Additional Help
There is plenty of advice via books, the Internet, and face-to-face counseling. In addition, there are community organizations, workshops, courses, and self-help groups that assist children, adults, and families with crises like family breakups. A Wake County child support lawyer can also assist you in finding the help you need.