A child of divorce is watching and hearing their parents argue. A lot. So much that this child may begin to ponder – where has the parenting gone?
If parents spend a lot of time arguing and sharing that information in front of the child, such as responsibilities, the child may begin to feel as if they need to assume those responsibilities themselves.
Family physician and chief of Medical Informatics at LA Care Health Plan, Dr. Katrina Miller, said that she is witnessing many children of divorce arrive to her office appearing and acting much more mature than their age.
“The child is not only missing the experience of being a kid and essential steps of childhood development, but their inner child may come out later on in life,” admitted Miller. “Or their child may never come out. This is disappointing. They never had the chance to be a kid and play and grow up in a natural progression. If they don’t, that essential step is missed early in life. That’s why you sometimes see children of divorce acting out later in life.”
“If you grew up and were able to experience life as a child and enjoyed that time and underwent that development, then when you are an adult, you still have a bit of that inner child in you,” Miller said. “You can be a balanced adult because you have a little bit of that playfulness, but can be responsible. If you lost that when you were 7 or 10, you can’t bring it back. You don’t have that balance anymore. You automatically go into hyperdrive of being a perfectionist at strict responsibility for everyone. You become the mature, overconfident adult that everyone sees as the pinnacle of perfection.”
Miller explained that there is a reason why certain childhood development stages occur at certain times in life. It is important for a coParent to be aware of these steps and try to help their child not skip over them.
Again, remain child-centric at all times. This translates to taking any and all arguments behind closed doors. Let your child be a child, encourage play, try not to give them too much responsibilities too early on in life. Chores are one thing, but making your child be their own adult and care for their siblings too early on may do more harm than good.