I do not believe that separation and divorce (or annulment) necessarily cause psychopathological problems in children. However, the parents’ split increases the risk for the development of emotional and psychological difficulties. More so, when children have been experiencing abuse or trauma (e.g. physical, emotional) prior to and/or during their parents’ breakup.
It’s so important then for separated/divorced parents to appreciate the value of counseling/therapy for their children. At times, one or both parents may be suffering from significant psychological disturbances. In such cases, the children can be very vulnerable and may develop disturbances as well. Since the parents are in deep need themselves, they are often not in a position to deal adequately with their children’s needs. Or, they may be handling the children in a misguided fashion that only contribute to their developing psychological troubles.
In the course of my practice, I did encounter children of divorce or separated parents who are breaking down. Some of them, unfortunately, have become violent, addicted, overspenders, or promiscuous in reaction (consciously or unconsciously) towards their parents’ abandonment or neglect. Of course, there are no simple answers. The problems dealt with by children of divorce are always complex and multi-factorial. Thus, I do what it takes to attempt to fill gaps and meet the children’s needs that are certainly legitimate and age-appropriate.
It’s my hope and prayer that the guidance and recovery contained in the sensitive sessions I hold with these children at risk may serve to lessen problems caused by parental psychological difficulties. I’ve been married myself and have children, my therapeutic assets notwithstanding, and can appreciate fully the problems and trauma of marriage and family. Still, I remain fully aware that the process of recovering and healing the hurts of children are filled with trials. It requires more intensive approaches than mere information and talks.
I’m reminded of Karen Carpenter’s song “Bless the Beast and the Children,” as I write this post. May much more be done to give the children shelter from the storm. Keep them warm. Keep them safe.