When families are restructuring, there are many important details that must be decided. Brains are working at answering questions about timelines, custody, homes, court dates, and finances. For a while, the focus on the logical may enable a numbing or postponement of the adult emotions. This is likely not true for the children; their emotions may be right at the surface.
It is impossible to predict the feelings that a child will have at any point during the separation and divorce, and for many years after. One thing we do know is that even if children do share their initial feelings, it’s normal that their reactions to and feelings about the divorce will transform as they get older and look at it in different stages of their development.
“Be a good friend!”
What is in a ‘good friendship’? Friendships are tricky! Children must have the skills to manage and maintain the good moments, while also being able to navigate the inevitable issues that will arise (let’s be honest, even adults struggle with the issues of friendships sometimes!).
When you think of success in adulthood, what do you think of? The answer to this question may be different for everyone, but there are likely some common themes that arise. A successful adult can function independently and plan ahead; has self-control during triggering situations; can create a healthy, daily routine and remember important details and tasks; problem solve and goal plan effectively; and can be flexible and adapt to challenges or changes within their environment. All these skills are what conventionally and in a foundational way define a “successful adult,” also known as executive function skills.
If I showed you a line and asked which of three other lines were the same length, there is a high probability you would choose the correct answer. Now imagine I put several other people in the room with you, asked the same question, and everyone in the group gave the exact same answer – which was different from yours. Would you change your answer?
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