May 062008

Only Child And Divorce

Divorce is painful. If anything, it is more painful for the only child and her parents owing to the cohesiveness and the tight bond the parents and the child enjoyed with each other.

Emotional Pressure

An only child will be under great emotional pressure while the process of divorce between his parents is on. The child will be plagued by a variety of questions and feel torn between his two parents: Who is at fault? Is he a cause for this divorce? And so on.

An only child below ten years of age may experience intense grief at the break up of the family triangle and nurse fears about his future. An early adolescent may feel deep betrayal resulting in greater rebellion and fissure between him and his parents. A late adolescent may pick up a lesson or two from his parents’ divorce and may conclude that “love is not forever” and “affection can be conditional”.

Easing The Emotional Pressure On The Only Child

While the child cannot be entirely protected from the impact of divorce, the brunt of it can be blunted. A child can be “eased” into the harsh reality of divorce if the parents take that extra care for the sake of their ward.

  • Preparing the child– It helps if the parents break the news of their divorce jointly and explain that this inevitable decision was taken keeping everyone’s interest in mind. It would help to emphasize that while you as parents may not live together, you are still joint in your decision to provide the best for your only child.
  • Predictability– Allow for some predictability in your new routine. This will help the child settle faster to the new life and routine. Put up a predictable schedule where communication with the other parent is allowed and when visits are anticipated. Also, allow for some relaxation of the schedule when the child has an immediate need to see or talk to the absent parent.
  • Sense of order– Look out for those personal habits and rituals which will bring in a sense of order and offer the child a sense of comfort and stability and reinstate them. Allow the child to choose his own space in the new living environment and do it up as he wishes. This will provide him a sense of control over the new living conditions.
  • Provide information– Your child will be assaulted by a variety of questions. Try to answer them patiently and as honestly as possible depending on the age and maturity of your child. Providing information can assuage the child’s fears greatly.
  • Be prepared– The impact of divorce may be seen in many areas of your child’s life. Be prepared for some amount of rebellion or tears. Your child’s grades may fall or he may retreat into sullen silence. Be sensitive to his feelings and do not pull up the child. He is coming to terms with the reality as much as you are.
  • Be strong– Do not lean on the child for emotional support or expect him to declare who the better parent is. No matter how traumatized you are, it is essential that you exercise adult responsibility and remain the parent and he the child during this painful phase.



 Posted by at 11:21 am

Only Children Forums Divorce and the Only Child

This topic contains 5 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Sophie 7 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #1023


    Being an only child can impose a lot of pressure during times of discontent in the family. During divorce of their parents, only children often suffer more than children from larger families. Suggestions on how to make it easier on onlies.

    [See the full post at: Divorce and the Only Child]

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  • #1097


    Despite all of our efforts, it seems my husband and I are headed towards divorce. The only thing that kept us going in the last 5 years is our dear Ellie. Now she’s 8 and you can tell our fights are pretty heavy on her but I can’t help but feel that she’d de devastated when we’ll divorce…



    Divorce is hard on everyone, but if it is the only “fix” then planning has to be done in order to ease the pressure on the child. Depending on the age of the child, of course, as an adult child is less affected in many ways.


    Emily Simms

    Being an only child and going through divorce is rough. An only child will most of the time believe that it was their fault. The parents need to address it and say that it was other things and not the child.



    I wonder how, Soohie – you got on with avoiding or proceeding with your divorce? I’m there right now and I’m so scared. I cannot bear the thought of telling my daughter- age 9. I want to pull this back from the brink so much …



    Sorry that last post was meant to read Joanne – I was wondering how you are?

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