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Helping a Young Child Recover From Divorce

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My husband and I separated, then divorced, almost 2 and a half years ago. Our son is now 4 years old, and he’s asking questions about why his Mommy and Daddy don’t live together anymore. His Dad and I both explained that we love him very much, that we still care about each other, but we just don’t live together. My son visits his Dad every other weekend and talks to him regularly on the phone. But lately I’ve noticed that he’s becoming angry about being separated from me for a few days. And now he’s showing more aggressive behavior at the preschool. We don’t want this to become a bigger issue — what do you suggest we do?

Stacy

It’s not unusual for children whose parents have recently divorced to have adjustment problems. Many kids experience anxiety or depression, and some even engage in aggressive or destructive behavior. If you think about it from your son’s perspective, his world has been turned upside down. His sense of safety and security was severely compromised at a very early age, and now you are observing how your divorce has impacted him emotionally.

You may not want to hear this, but the research on the long-term effects of divorce on children isn’t very pretty. A significant percentage of kids from divorced homes struggle with depression, academic difficulties, drug and alcohol abuse, and other problems. Many of them have difficulty establishing or maintaining intimate relationships.

I’ll be straight with you, Stacy: The best way to help your son is to reconcile with your husband. You said you’ve been divorced for two years…the fact is that most couples who split up these days are involved in what we therapists refer to as “low conflict” divorces. In other words, their relationship didn’t end because of abuse or unfaithfulness — these couples simply say that they “grew apart” or “fell out of love.”

I don’t know if that’s your story, but if it is, I would challenge you and your husband to consider what is best for your son. How much effort did you put into working through your problems? You obviously were in love once…is it possible that the two of you could put any pride or resentment aside and seriously commit to six months of counseling with an experienced marital therapist? Only you know the answer to that question.

If reconciliation is impossible or one of you has re-married, then you’re going to need to do everything in your power to help your son adjust. He will need an extra measure of your love, your reassurance, and especially your time. You’ll need to help him learn to express his feelings of anger and sadness in appropriate ways. My colleague Dr. Archibald Hart has written an excellent book that will help you guide your son through the healing process. It’s titled Helping Children Survive Divorce. You can order this book online in our Resource Center or by calling our ministry’s toll free number 1/800/A-FAMILY (1/800/232-6459).

Thanks for writing, Stacy. I pray that you will seek God’s leading in the decisions that lie ahead.

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There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

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