Children Can Handle the Anger From Divorce

Children Can Handle the Anger From Divorce

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

I write this article as if I am talking directly to the children whose parents are divorced. You can share these tips with children to help them handle the feelings caused by divorce.

"After the divorce, some children stay angry all the time. You might be one of the children who are angry because their parents won't get back together again. You might be angry with your parents because they can't give you what you want.

Sometimes, when parents see their children angry or upset, they give them what they want. If it's something like ice cream or candy, it's often no sweat for parents to open the fridge and give it to you.

"But, anger only sometimes can help you get what you want. Other times, anger just can't help you get it, no matter how much you want it. Say, "Johnny" has a toy he really loves and his friend by mistake breaks it. Now, Johnny can stay angry, cry a lot and even throw a tantrum, but Johnny can't UNBREAK what's broken.

"Divorce is like the broken toy. Parents made some mistakes in their marriage and the marriage broke. They can marry someone else and try to not make those mistakes again. But, like the toy, they can't put together what is already broken. Though you may want it very much and your parents love you very much, but they can't marry each other again because they no longer love each other. Remember how unhappy they were when they were together.

"Let's get back to the story of Johnny and his broken toy. So, what should Johnny do?" He should ask for a "substitute." A substitute could be another toy or something else to his liking that is possible. In time, Johnny would be pleased with the substitute and may even forget how upset he was when the toy broke. The moral of the story is this: "When something is lost or broken, you can't get it back and you can't put it together, find a substitute."

"You'll stay angry as long as you keep hoping and wanting your parents to change their mind. When you know you can't have both parents living in the same home, accept the substitute. The substitute is two homes instead of one. Since parents live in separate homes, make the best of both homes and get along good with both parents.

"Are you upset because one of your parent hardly ever visits you or never invites you to visit him or her? Remember the moral of Johnny's story? Anger and tantrums can't fix a broken toy. So, anger and tantrums won't help you to see the other parent more often. Think of the substitutes. Playing with your friends, visiting grandparents or other relatives who love you can be the substitutes. What other substitutes can you think of?

"Sometimes children want things parents think they shouldn't have. When they can't have them, they get upset. Say you want ice cream right then and your parents think you shouldn't. Instead of getting upset, you should ask your parents why you shouldn't have the ice cream right then. Parents have a reason why it won't be good, right or fair to give you what you want.

"Some children after the divorce feel they should get whatever they want and whenever they want it. Because the divorce made them so unhappy, they think that parents shouldn't tell them "No" to anything they want. That's not FAIR to parents. They have to tell "NO" for anything they think is not right or good for the children. It is the parents' job to make rules about what is right and what is not.

"Sometimes, one parent has rules about what the children can do or have, but the other one doesn't. This makes them very angry with the parent who has all the rules and says "NO" to a lot of things. They don't understand why is it that when they visit the other parent, they can have anything they want. They are even allowed to have things that aren't really good for them. That is a problem.

"A child may feel happier at the parent's home where there are no rules to follow and no one to say "NO, " to anything. They might even think that the parent who lets them do anything they want loves them more. Such a parent may buy big and expensive presents for their children to "bribe" them. Children might think that the parent who gives them more expensive gifts loves them more. Do you know what might be wrong with thinking that?

Children and grownups have to follow rules. Coaches make rules for the playgrounds, principals make rules for the schools, and parents make rules for the homes. A parent who doesn't make and teach the child some rules is not doing a good job as a parent. A child, who doesn't learn the rules at home, might get in trouble outside such as in school or at the playground.

Parents' love can't be measured by the size or the price of the gift they give. Parents who are poor may not be able to give expensive gifts to their children, but they still love their children very much. Divorced fathers often have more money than mothers. Fathers often can give children more expensive gifts than mothers can. It doesn't mean that mothers love their children less than fathers do.

Parents, who do their job well must always make sure about what's good, right and fair for their children. Sometimes children get upset with parents because they don't always understand why they are being told "No' or why they have to follow certain rules.

Talk to your parents about what's making you angry. Ask them if it's not "right" or "fair" for you to keep wanting the thing that makes you so angry.

E-mail a link to this article to a friend. 

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Copyright 2002, Mind Publications 


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