The greatest of all emotional needs for any individual, is the need "too belong" or being associated!!!
Being part of a couple, family, group, society or community automatically instills positive feelings of security, confidence and love.
Its this need "to belong" that gives "family" so much of importance within the social framework. For centuries society has centered around the concept of "family being the main provider for the emotional need of "belonging."
As society has evolved and a new socio-cultural structure has taken shape, individuals today are fast moving away from the concept of "family satisfying their need of belonging or need of association" to a more open minded approach of "friends, work, organisations, etc" satisfying it.
The foundation of the entity called "family" is more fragile today than ever. Difference in personalities, difference in desires, difference in life-styles, more freedom of expression and emotional health issues like anxiety, depression, suspicious, etc are pushing forward for an increased number of divorces or separations of married couples.
Thou a Separation is never peaceful, and it leaves an psychological scar within the individuals involved. The biggest silent suffers of this phenomenon are the children. Unfortunately the emotional tides are so high that parents fail to explain divorce in appropriate terms. Children like adults, never are too vocal about their feelings. Its their behavior that really shows whats going inside their mind. Most children whose parents are going through a divorce, show initial signs of depression and adjustment problems. Since the parents are trying to sort their own issues, and guided by the social myth of mental health being a self-healing phenomenon, productive discussions about the situation and its future repercussions are never held with the child. Most of the times it creates an emotional vacuum within the child psychology, which only becomes evident very later in life.
Thou separation is inevitable in most cases, its important that parents take care of their children during such a period.
Some very important issues that need to be focused on are:
1. Prior to separation, each parent should sit and discuss it with the child. This discussion should be open ended, in which the child is allowed to ask as many questions as he/she wants.
2. A child is very intelligent. But he/she also tends to equate two unrelated things very easily. Its important that both parents have an open line of communication to answer all of the child's questions.
3. A child should be re-assured that he/she is not the reason or fault of the divorce. Many a times during a heated discussion, one parent might use the child as cover to emotionally hurt the other. 90% such discussions are heard by the child, as much to the belief of parents that he/she is asleep or hasn't heard it. Child tend to generalize and perceive the situation in different senses. It's important that a clear clarification is given on the same.
4. A child has to be reassured, that even thou he/she might not live with both parents under one roof, he/she will be loved by both.
This might not hold true, In some special cases, where there has been an "ugly" separation or one of the parents is suffering from a psychologically diagnosed major personality disorder.
In such cases the parent who gets the child's custody has to give, show and communicate his/her love for the child at all possible instances. This helps to fill in the love-void created by the separation.
5. As the child grows, his/her needs might fluctuate compared to his/her peers. A single parent has to be extra vigilant to know which needs to indulge in, and which need to be satisfied by the other parent.
Overtly pampering the child, under the pretext of the divorce, can lead to extreme negative traits development within the child.
6. During the process of separation, don't fight in front of the child.
7. Don't expect the child to understand your emotional, physical and social needs. He/She might understand that only very late in life.
8. Don't openly and overtly criticize the other parent in front of the child. It can create a fear of relationships within the child. which can prevent him/her from getting into any healthy, long term relationship in the future.
9. If you are child is being visited by the other parent, don't interrogate him/her about the visit. Let him/her tell you what they want.
10. "if life has given you Lemons, make sure your child gets lemonade".... Build Trust with the child, and always focus on positive emotions of life, family and social-structure.
11. Many a times childhood depression, anxiety and adjustment problems can continue for longer than 6months. Consult a psychologist-psychiatrist combination. Both counseling and medications will be needed to help him be neuro-protected from any long term psychological problems.
Medications are no longer just sleeping pills, and they can be very mild dose non-addictive, non-sedative neuro-protectors that help decrease the internal restlessness and help in improvement of behavior and studies.
12. Always be a confident parent in front of the child. Emotional outbursts, crying, mood swings, anger, can be a very big negative force to prevent the child from developing positive personality traits.
Dr.Hemant Mittal (MBBS, PG.DPM)
Behavior, Memory, Sleep, emotion and sexual health consultant
for any further free consultation, email me at - email@example.com