Divorce/Breakup and Preschoolers

What are the effects of Divorce/Breakup and Preschoolers? For preschoolers, the most common reactions to divorce/breakup are fear, bewilderment, confusion and guilt.  If you have questions regarding your children please call 734.927.9782 to speak with a divorce and family law attorney. 

What are the effects of Divorce/Breakup and Preschoolers?  As you read, remember that each child is unique and not all children experience the difficulties discussed here.  In the paragraphs that follow, the most common problems experienced by children of divorcing parents will be discussed with a focus on Divorce/Breakup and Preschoolers.

Most parents that separate, either via a divorce or a break up, ask themselves some tough questions about what the divorce/breakup will do to their children.  They wonder about how the children will make sense of what is happening during and after the divorce/breakup process. How will the children react to both parents as the family changes?  Will they adjust well to a new marriage partner and perhaps to step siblings?  Will their grades in school suffer?  Will they withdraw from their friends and perhaps suffer some permanent emotional harm?  Does it make a difference what age your children are, or what gender?

Perhaps the bottom line for most parents is whether their children will survive the breakup and emerge as reasonably healthy adults.  Certainly, many children do and are better off in a variety of ways than if had remained in a family of arguing unhappy members.

Divorce/Breakup and Preschoolers

What are the effects of Divorce/Breakup and Preschoolers? For preschoolers, the most common reactions to divorce/breakup are fear, bewilderment, confusion and guilt.  Young children lack the mental abilities to understand what is happening and why.  Their primitive logic can lead them to assume that if Dad can leave their daily life, Mom can, too (or vice versa), and that if Mom and Dad can stop loving each other, they can also stop loving the children.  They often worry about who will take care of them, whether there will be enough food, enough money, a house to live in, and so forth. Very young children, even in the first six months of life, react with fear and anxiety to expressions of parental anger.

During a Divorce/Breakup with Preschoolers, parents will often observe a regression to earlier forms of behavior, such as reclaiming a security blanket, problems in toileting, emotional clinging, disobedience, night fears, fears at separation for baby sitters or preschool, etc. There may be strange fantasies about the cause of the absence of one parent.  There may be disruptions in play activities, and increases in aggression.  It is common for young, children to believe that they are responsible for the break-up of the family, and if they had only been better children that Dad (or Mom) would have stayed.  If they see their parent being very upset, bright preschoolers and older children may hide their own distress so as not to be an additional burden.

Divorce/Breakup and Preschoolers: How to Help

These young children need clear and frequent reassurances that they will be taken care of, that both Mom and Dad still love them, that they are still a family but will have different living arrangements. They need simple explanations about why the divorce/breakup occurred (preferably in advance) to reassure them that the problems are between the parents, and that the break-up is not the children’s fault.  They need an opportunity to express their fears and concerns.  Parents should frequently set aside time to talk to the preschoolers about their feelings.

Parents should also minimize their conflict in front of their children.  Young children listen to their parents’ arguments, and may think they are to blame for this conflict.  Children need to spend meaningful one-to-one time with each parent as frequently as possible.

Your specific situation may be somewhat different from the norm; please call, 734.927.9782, the Canton Michigan Divorce Lawyers and Canton Michigan Family Law Attorneys at Stelmock Law Firm, PC to discuss your matter.  We represent clients in the Metro Detroit area (Canton, Plymouth, Northville, Livonia, Westland, Ann Arbor, Novi) and throughout Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, and Livingston counties. The firm’s office is located at 8556 N. Canton Center Road, Canton, Michigan 48187

By: Robert J. Stelmock, Attorney, GAL, Parenting Coordinator & Mediator at Stelmock Law Firm, PC