Nobody ever told us that parenting after divorce would be easy. However, many of us may have assumed that once the papers were signed and our kids had a few months to adjust that things would simply be alright. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how many times we tell our kids they aren’t to blame for our breakups, far too often they internalize our divorce and carry the burden of guilt. Whether it’s shame, resentment, frustration, or anger we might see these behaviors surface every now and then.
It’s no great secret that our divorces did and still do impact our children. However, these effects often surface in some surprising ways even years later. In fact, two studies from 1991 and 2001, both concluded that on average our boys and girls score lower when it came to measuring everything from academic achievement, psychological adjustment, self concept, and relationships.
Part of these reactions are normal, especially for children who are trying to make sense of the changes occurring in their lives. Many of us assumed there would be some transition and things would be rocky at times, but we took action to help support the kids during our divorces. However, a byproduct of our divorce is shared custody and every now and again, strained relationships.
This typically means we are splitting time with our children and can miss a lot of the day-to-day interactions. Sure, we might be missing out on the drudgery of homework and chores, but we might also be missing vital opportunities to notice subtle changes in our kids that can warn us they are struggling with larger issues like body image or poor self-concept.
Growing up, we were no strangers to the pressures of having an ideal body or style and our kids are also familiar with photoshopped images. With the advent of the Internet and smartphones, our kids are suddenly facing perfectly groomed images as they scroll social media, read the news, or stream their favorite shows everyday. Our kids’ technology is full of perfect photos and manicured posts that are taking a toll on our children’s self-concept, causing many of them to develop insecurities, body image issues, anxiety, depression, and a FOMO (fear of missing out).
As divorced parents, obviously this can be frightening to realize. We know how unhealthy body image issues are, but when combined with today’s technology and the already strained relationships within our families it might be difficult for us to recognize the early signs of eating disorders or self harming behaviors. For more information on detecting body image issues in our sons and daughters, please visit this infographic from the creative minds at TeenSafe.