Sometimes I lock myself in my room and silently cry. I secretly cut myself to feel in control of
all the out of control things going on in my life. Sara, age 15
This 15 year old’s family has fallen apart. They are going through one of the hardest times in their lives…a divorce. Many parents are caught up in the war of divorce and are blind to the destruction that is tearing their children’s world apart. Like many divorcing parents, they are consumed by their own emotional struggles and are oblivious to the depth of despair that burden their children’s lives. Your child’s battle may or may not include cutting themselves, but certainly they are carrying around pain, confusion, anger, and overwhelming feelings they don’t know how to manage. Stop the madness. Decide now to make a difference for their sake. Notice them.
Warning signs of their internal struggle include acting out, and/or just the opposite, withdrawing and isolating from family and friends. Don’t ignore red flags. Step in and be their life preserver. Get the help that you need to be equipped to guide and support them. Children’s brains are not developed enough to know what to do with all the emotional drama and chaos that is inherent in divorce. They need your help. How can you help them if you have not learned how to help yourself? Seek greater knowledge and use your resources. Getting help is a strength not a weakness. Children need you to be stable and healthy to navigate this rocky road.
The best gift you can give your child this holiday season, is the gift of stability which delivers a powerful, unspoken message; You are going to be okay. During one of the most uncertain and scary times in their lives, they need to know: they are not going through this alone; they have a support team as a safety net; they will survive this; and life will get better.
Divorce doesn’t have to be chaotic. In fact, many opportunities for growth and learning valuable lessons are attainable. Stumbling blocks can become stepping stones to a greater life that may never have been possible. Decide to make a change. Be courageous. Do something different. Equip yourself with new tools and coping skills, and empower yourself to create a new and better life than ever before.
Dilyse Diaz, M.A., L.M.F.T., is a California State Licensed Marriage, Family, Child Psychotherapist. Dilyse specializes in individual, couples, children, adolescents and family therapy and has a thriving, successful private practice in Valencia, California.