Centuori & Alcoverde, P.C.

No two Arizona families are ever exactly the same, and kids will experience family changes in unique ways. For some kids, a divorce between their parents is a source of relief, and marks a transition away from daily tensions within the home. In other cases, kids will process their parents' divorce in the same way as they would the loss of a loved ones, and will go through the stages of grief. Understanding what those stages are can help parents support their kids during and after a divorce.  

The first stage of grief involves a period of denial and/or shock. Kids may refuse to believe that the family structure is about to change and may feel overwhelmed by the news. Next, they may transition into a period of intense anger, and can lash out at parents and others as they come to terms with the reality that their lives are about to change.  At times, this anger can be self-directed, and kids can come to believe that their actions have somehow played a role in their parents' decision to divorce.

Once anger has subsided, many kids will go through a period of depression and sadness. They may exhibit changes in their personality or habits, including increased irritability or trouble sleeping. Parents must closely monitor their kids during this period of time to ensure that sadness does not move into the territory of serious depression. Once this sadness dissipates, kids may feel that they should make an effort to try and bargain with their parents to change the outcome of the divorce. They might promise to get better grades or behave better if the family stays together.

Finally, most Arizona kids will move into the stage of acceptance, where they have fully integrated the realities of the divorce and are ready to adapt. This can be a time in which the family makes new commitments to meeting the emotional needs of shared children by engaging in positive co-parenting practices. While it may be difficult to watch a child go through the stages of grief outlined above, the end result can be a happy and healthy co-parenting structure in which the children move between two loving households.

Source: The Huffington Post, "How A Divorce Is Like a Loss for Children: The 5 Stages", Ashley Tate Cooper, June 6, 2016

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