RUNNING HEAD: .
The Effects of Communication on Children of Divorce
New Mexico State University-Carlsbad
The effects of interpersonal communication skills between divorced or separated parents on children, is very important to most of society because most people have divorced parents or have family members that are. Everyone knows someone who has dealt with divorce in their family and it effects all children involved and people involved with those children. Unfortunately, it is an ever growing situation in the United States. It is important for the parents and all involved to communicate productively to help the children grow and have good communication skills themselves. The effects of communication barriers can be very detrimental to childrens social skills and their capabilities to function productively is many situations they may encounter later in life.
When families are facing divorce or have decided divorce the situations before can already be hurting the child, but what comes after can affect them more. It is important for the parents involved to put their personal feelings aside and try to have a professional like relationship. It is hard enough for children to deal with divorce, the change of family living, way things are ran in the household, people living in the home or maybe even moving to new cities etc. There are a lot of changes that occur and it is very stressful for all involved but hardest normally on the children that are involved. Sometimes the situation before is not better and actually after the parents are divorced the relationships can prosper. Sometimes one parent becomes distant then the other or absent completely, but for the sake of the child it is most important for both parents to continue in the childs life and to keep the communications lines open.
The communication between the parents and the children are very important for success of good relationships to continue. When there is bad communication it can cause on parent to become favored or bad mouthing the other the child which can lead the child resenting the parent that is saying bad things about the other parent. It also may affect the childs relationship with that parent that is being talked bad about. A child’s relationship with his or her parents following a divorce is critical to the child’s adjustment. Although the distress of not being with both parents is one of the most painful parts of divorce, it is the continuing relationship that children have with their parents that is essential to their long-term adjustment. This highlights the importance of not criticizing the other parent in front of the child (Foulkes-Jamison. 2001). Putting down or talking bad about the other parent is not healthy for the child.
Children tend not to tell you when they are angry, resentful, confused, hurt or depressed. Instead, they reflect their problems through their behavior — acting out or perhaps turning inward in ways that you have not experienced prior to the divorce.(Sedacca, 2012) The child can become angry, confrontational, depressed and can cause the child to become withdrawn. Many times when the parents do not communicate the kid is more affected then the parents even if they may not see it. The child may hide it from the parents and keep all the hurt inside. They may also try and use one parents against the other to get what they want. The parents will sometimes compete for the childs love and attention. They may use the style of competing I win, You lose. The competitive style involves great concern for your own needs and desires and little for those of others (DeVito, 2012). With this the parent is more concerned about winning and their own feelings or need to win then the childs feelings and needs. They just want to beat the other parent. It is a sad cycle that happens to often, where one just wants to win and doesnt care about those involved or the outcomes of their actions.
It is important that the parents communicate to one another, about grades, school, doctors appointments, sports, friends, any problems they are having adjusting or just their changes in personality. One good idea is to have the child and the parents all sit down together as often as possible to communicate these things. When the communication between the parents and children is open and good the child can know they have support of both parents but mainly the parents support one another and they all agree on the way that the child will be raised or disciplined. When parents do get along it can help the children better adjust to the divorce, since it is already hard for the children, when the parents get along and make the adjustment easy and help it flow smoothly, can help the child a lot. Also talking to the child openly and eye to eye can help, listening to the childs concerns and feelings and addressing theses. Whether feelings of not seeing one parent as much as the other or feeling one doesnt love them as much, there are many feelings the child can go through during the stages of divorce. The most important thing is for the parents to listen and help the child deal with the changes and their feelings and make sure they know it is not their fault and they did nothing wrong. When the child understand this it helps them adjust easier to the situation.
Some things also that can come into play that affects the communication between a parent and child is when step-parents are involved. Sometimes a step-parent can come into the situation and make it better but sometimes they make it worse. If the step-parent is given control by one parent it can cause communication barriers between the parents and the children. This can really affect the children involved in very negative way. When the step-parent(s) involved bad mouth another parent it is wrong and can hurt relationships, also cause the child to hate the step-parent and also the parent they are married too. This can cause the child to start changing behaviors or acting out. In really bad situations a child may want to have nothing to do with that side of the family.
When the newly established families can get along and continue to communicate for the sake of the kids the kids can prosper and grow and learn to have good relationships and how to communicate in many situations they may face later in life. So the way that things are handled for the beginning whether if in a good relationship or bad can affect the way the child grows and learns to deal with things later in life. It is very important for both the parents to communicate openly and attentively with the child at all times and always address their feelings and help them deal with the ever changing relationship and family dynamics they may face.
Effective communication between divorced patients may be difficult between parents because of conflicts from the divorce or differences of opinions. The parents may not get along with each other but sacrifices must be made by both of the parents for the sake of the children involved. It is very important to support one another and try to get along for the child, and to listen and help the child. Whether the parent I with the child all the time or only part of the time the communication relationship is most important.
Sedacca, Rosalind (2012) Huffington Post. Boosting Parent/Child Communication After Your Divorce. Retrieved from www.huffingtonpost.com/rosalind-sedacca/boosting-parentchild-comm_b_2194599.html
Foulkes-Jamison, Ph.D., Lesley. Clinical Psychology Associates of North Central Florida P.A., (2001). The Effects of Divorce on Children retrieved from http://cpancf.com/articles_files/efffectsdivorceonchildren.asp
DeVito, Joseph A. (2012). Human Communication. The Basic Course. Conflict Styles have Consequences. Pg. 268 ( 9).