While I was recently listening to John Legend singing: “It Don’t have to Change,” I began thinking about families experiencing change because of divorce.
When a family is in the Collaborative Divorce Process, I talk to the children as a Neutral Child Specialist. Children tell me that they don’t want their family to change. Families do change. In fact, half of families change because of divorce, and families change because life changes.
So how do families in transition maintain that sense of family togetherness and cohesiveness and help children have a positive adjustment to divorce?
Change can be a source of anxiety whether you are an adult or a child. When a family is in divorce, the family rituals that were once looked to for that sense of identity and closeness as a family are now in a state of flux. Children and parents are experiencing uncertainty and loss, and the future is unknown.
Rituals are known to be a source of healing and support across cultures. Rituals provide support when there is grief and loss, and are an important ingredient for binding a family together in love and cohesiveness. Daniel Goleman, in his 1992 New York Times Article wrote that when families preserve their rituals, their children fare better, even in the face of disruptive problems.
Parents can support their children’s emotional adjustment to divorce by being mindful of the rituals that have been important to the family. Parents who talk about this with the children and find ways to continue meaningful rituals when possible, help children to have a sense of continuity through the transition. A parent creating new rituals with the children in the new family home enables each member of that family unit to experience a sense of identity and belonging. This supports a positive adjustment to the changes taking place within the family, and ultimately leads to a stronger sense of family.
Yes, I agree with John Legend: “Our love don’t have to change.“Tagged with: anxiety • children's emotional adjustment to divorce • family change • family cohesiveness • family in divorce • family rituals • family routines • grief and loss • neutral child specialist