Many children are flooded with emotion after the divorce, loss, or absence of a parent. The intensity of these emotions can frighten a child who has not felt them before. Children, just like adults, need support and time to work through their mixed emotions. As a parent, you can guide your child by learning about these emotions and their causes and encouraging your child as he works through them.
Can you remember the range of emotion you felt when you separated, lost a spouse, or had a child on your own? Your children will have many of the same feelings. Feelings of loss, anger, and hurt are common. Children have one disadvantage. They do not understand many of these emotions. They don't know things will usually get better. They don't have the experience to deal with these problems. You can help your child through many of the emotional hurdles he will face. The first step is to understand your child's point of view. Here are what a few children had to say about the emotions they felt:
"The hardest part about losing my father was that I needed someone to talk to. My mom had her own problems to deal with. My friends were more into cars and things, so I never really talked it out. Now, my mom wants to talk, but I feel like everything is bottled up and I can't get it out." - Jerry S.
"I felt angry. Angry at my dad for not having the courage to make it work and angry at my mom for letting him go. Angry at myself that I couldn't see it. Angry at God for putting us through this. I turned to drinking and drugs because I didn't know how to get the anger out." - Monica W.
"Everything that was secure, wasn't anymore. I mean I never thought this would happen in my family. I don't feel like I can trust anyone anymore." - Kerri L.
This is a sampling of emotions in children. Learning how and taking the time to identify your child's feelings can help prevent the emptiness many children feel. Let's examine each emotion more closely.