Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Juvenile-HD

HOME

INDEX Page
Tools For Viewing
10 The Most Commonly Asked Questions
Clinical Trials & Research
Huntington's Disease~WeMove Info
Advocacy/Donations/Press Info
Clinical Definition & Search
Facing HD~Family Handbook
JHD Handbook-Chapter 1
JHD Info-Stanford Univ.
Physician's Guide To HD
Caring for People with HD
Physical & Occupational Therapy In HD
Understanding Behaviour in HD-Dr. Jane Paulsen
Understanding Behavioral-Dr. Edmond Chiu
Advanced Stages Caregivers Handbook
First Shift-Certified Nursing Assistants
Activities of Daily Living-HD
Unified HD Rating Scale (UHDRS) Motor Section
Westphal Variant
SECTION 1 - AT RISK
Age & Probability Chart
At Risk For HD-What Next?
At-Risk Checklist
Best Interest of Child?
Crystal Ball?
Food For Thought
Parent Hasn't Tested?
Q&A On Risk of Inheriting JHD
Testing Children
SECTION 2 - GENETIC TESTING
Genetic Disorders & Birth Defects
Genetic Testing for HD
Genetic Counseling-In General
Psychological Impact
Intro: Genetics/Genetic Testing
Prenatal & Preimplanation
Prenatal Testing-In General
o Genetic Testing Resources
o Personal Stories
SECTION 3 - JHD
Coping With The Early Years
Age of HD Appearance
Age of Onset-Historical
Family-HD Underestimated
Children of Parents With HD
Child~Parent Ill
Clinical Description JHD
HD - What Kids Are Saying
HD & Me
JHD-Duration of Illness
JHD-Clinical and Research
JHD Symptoms
Parenting With HD
Patients/Families Coping
Talking With Children About HD
5 Stages of HD
JHD Resources
SECTION 4 - SYMPTOM RECOGNITION
Parent Resources
8 Fears of A Chronic Illness
Anxiety/Apathy/Irritability~HD
Anxiety, Fears & Phobias
Apathy-Physician's Guide
Ataxia
Attention-Perceptual/Unawareness Physician's Guide
Bed/Pressure Sores
Bed/Pressure Ulcer Guideline
Behavior Management
Bi-Polar Disorders
Botulinum toxin therapy
Bradykinesia
Caring Tips
Child Abuse-Reconizing Signs
Chorea-Physician's Guide
Chorea
Cognitive/Decision Making/Impulsivity
Cognitive-Short Tips
Contractures~Joints Locking
Dehydration-Physician's Guide
Dehydration
Delirium
Denial of HD
Depression~Physician's Guide
Depression-Understanding It
Depression-How To Help
Depression - Treatment Resistant Patient
Depression-Other Resources
-Read If Your Child Is On Antidepressant
Disgust - Impaired Recognition in HD
Dissociative disorders
Driving - Physician's Guide
Dyslexia
Dyslexia Resources
Dystonia
Dystonia/Rigidity & Spasticity Physician's Guide
Dystonia-Predominant Adult-Onset HD
Epileptic Seizures and Epilepsy
Epilepsy-Seizures~PG
-Seizures ~Special Populations
Falling~Safety
Falling - Subdural Hematoma Risk
Fevers - Unexplained
Fevers, sweating & menstural cycles in HD
GERD (Stomach)
HD Principle Treatments
Hallucinations/Psychosis~PGHD
Hand muscle reflexes in HD
Hypothalamus - A Personal Theory
Insomia ~Physician's Guide
Irritability~Temper Outburst Physician's Guide
Learning Disability
Mania/OCD~Physician's Guide
Mood Disorder Rate In HD
Myoclonus (Movements)
Nails-What To Look For
Night Terrors
Obsessive Compulsive OCD
Panic Disorder
Personality disorders
Pneumonia
Pneumonia-Advanced Stages
Pneumonia - Aspirated (Inhaled)
Prosody - Social Impairment
Sexuality~Physician's Guide
Skins Sensitivity
Sleep Disorders
Smoking-Physician's Guide
Spasticity
Stress
Tremors
Why Certain Symptoms Occur
Symptom & Treatment Resources
SECTION 5 - COMMUNICATION
Communication Resources
Communication Problems
Communication Strategies For HD~Jeff Searle
SECTION 6 - EATING/SWALLOWING/NUITRITION
Hints For Weight Loss in HD
HD & Diet~HSA Fact Sheet 7
Nutrients: Some Possible Deficiency Symptoms
Nutrition and HD~Anna Gaba (Recipes)
Nutrition Information In HD~Naomi Lundeen
Speech & Swallowing~Lynn Rhodes
Swallowing & Nutrition Physician's Guide To HD
Swallowing & Nuitrition Resources
Swallowing Warning Signs
5 Swallowing Problems
Taste changes in HD
Weight Gain
Resources-Drinks/Shakes
-Feeding Tubes~Advanced Stages of HD
-Feeding Tube~Jean Miller
-Feeding Tubes: One More Word ~Jean Miller
-Feeding Tubes & Baby Foods
-Feeding Tube~Dental Care
-Feeding Tube Instructions~Jean Miller
-Feeding Tube Resources
SECTION 7 - THERAPIES
Finding a Therapist - Behavoir
What Is A Physiotherapist?
Physical Therapy In HD
Speech-Language Therapy
Therapy Descriptions
Therapy Resources- Easter Seal
Therapy Resources
SECTION 8 - MEDICATIONS
HD Treatments
Medications-Movement Disorders
Medication/Emergency Info Forms
Cutting Prescriptions
Drugs-Look 'Em Up
-Adolescents Under 25
-Antidepressant Adverse Effects
-Anti-psychotic
-Anxiety-Antidepressant
A-Z Mental Health Drugs
-Creatine
-EPA~Fish Oil
-Haldol/Haloperidol - Clinical Sheet
-Haldol~Clinician Description
-Haldol & HD
-Haldol/HD Patient Experiences
-Haldol~ Patient Handout
-Mood Stabilizers: ASK 3 Questions
-Neuroleptic Malignant Synd WARNING
-Olanzipine-Risperidone/blood tests
-Celexa/Luvox/Paxil/Prozac/Zoloft
-Psychiatric Drugs & Children
Sertraline ~Zoloft
-Spasticity Meds/Treatments
-SSRI Medications
-Tardive Dyskinesia WARNING
-Weight Gain Medications
-Sites/Help the Medicine Go Down
-Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies
SECTION 9 - SURGERIES
Surgery-Movement Disorders
o Surgery Resources
SECTION 10 - PROCEDURES
Clinic Visits-How To Prepare
CT Scans, MRI's etc.
Swallowing Tests
Tests Commonly Used
o Procedures Resources
SECTION 11- ALCOHOL/DRUGS
Alcohol-Parent's Guide
Alcohol-Talking To Your Child
Drugs-What To Do?
Drugs-Talking To Your Child
Disciplining-Ages 0-13 & Up
SECTION 12- SUICIDE
Straight Talk On Suicide
Teen Suicide-You Need To Know
o Suicide Resources
SECTION 13 - DIVORCE
Divorce & Child Stress
Tips For Divorcing Parents
SECTION 14 - DISABILITY ISSUES
Guides To Disability Issues
Caring-Child & Medical Technology
Caring for a Seriously Ill Child
Child Long Term Illness
Disability-Special Education Plan
IFSP Early Intervention Process
Disability Resources
Financial Planning
Wishes Can Come True-Children's Wish Foundations
Special Needs Resources
Special Needs Camp - About
Special Needs Camp - Finding One
SECTION 15 - ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY
Child Assistive Technology
Adaptive Equipment Resources
Products
SECTION 16 - EMOTIONAL ISSUES
Signs of Unhealthy Self-Esteem
Emotional Behavior Links
o Emotional Support Resources
SECTION 17 - GRIEF
Helping Child Deal With Death
o Grief Addtional Resources
SECTION 18 - ADD/ADHD
ADD & Teens
Conduct Disorders
FAQS & Related Info
Understanding AD/HD
What Is AD/HD?
Research Articles
Resources
SECTION 19 - HD SUPPORT GROUPS
HD Support Groups
National Youth Association
SECTION 20 - HD LINKS
HD Links
Related Resources
Tips For Friends
SECTION 21 - BENEFITS/INSURNACE
HD Disability
Benefits Check UP - See What You Can Get
Medical Insurance Bureau's Facts On You!
Medicare-Medicaid
Medicare Rights-Home Health & Hospice
Medicare Rights Center Resources
No Insurance? Try This!
Prescription Drug Cards Part I
Prescription Drug Cards Part II
Social Security-Children With Disabilities
SECTION 22 - ARTICLES/JHD
JHD and ADD
SECTION 23 - CAREGIVING
Articles-Resources
Caregiver Self-Assessment
Caregiver's Handbook
"First Shift With A Person With HD"
Getting Respite Care/Help At Home
Helpful Forms-Info
Home Emergency Preparations
Symptom Management
Ten Tips
Useful Tools
SECTION 24 - BIO
Our Personal Experience
Coping At The End
Kelly E. Miller
Song & Verse
Letter From My Heart
GUESTBOOK
Divorce & Child Stress

INDEX Page

Divorce is stressful for parents and children alike. Although children's emotional reactions usually depend on their age at the time of the divorce, many children experience feelings of sadness, anger, and anxiety - and it's not uncommon for these feelings to be expressed in their behavior.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your child during a divorce. By minimizing the stress the situation creates and responding openly and honestly to your child's concerns, you can help your child through this often difficult time.

Telling Your Child
As soon as you are certain of your plans, talk to your child about your decision to divorce. Although there's no easy way to break the news, both parents should be present when a child is told, and feelings of anger, guilt, or blame should be left out of the conversation. At best, this is a difficult message to communicate, but if you handle it sensitively, you can help make it less painful for your child.

Although the discussion about divorce should be tailored to your child's age and development, all children should receive the same basic message: "Mommy and Daddy used to love each other and were happy, but now we're not happy and have decided we'd be happier apart. What happened occurred between us, but we will always be your parents and we will always be there to love and take care of you."

It's important to emphasize that your child is in no way to blame for the breakup and that the unhappiness is not related to her. Children tend to blame themselves for the failure of their parents' marriages, and they need to be reminded frequently that this is not the case. Finally, your child may question whether your love for her is temporary; reassure your child that even though you are getting a divorce, you love her permanently and unconditionally.

When it comes to answering questions about your divorce, give your child enough information so that she's prepared for changes in her life but not so much that it frightens her. Try to keep your feelings neutral and answer your child's questions in an age-appropriate way and as truthfully as possible. Remember that your child doesn't need to know all the details; she just needs to know enough to understand clearly that although you may be separating from your spouse, you aren't divorcing her.

Not all children react the same way when told their parents are divorcing. Some ask questions, some cry, and some have no initial response at all. If your child seems upset when you break the news, let her know that you recognize and care about her feelings, and reassure her that it's OK to cry. For example, you might say, "I know this is upsetting for you, and I can understand why," or "We both love you and are so sorry that our problems are causing you to feel this way." If your child doesn't have an emotional reaction right away, let her know there will be other times to talk.

Most children are concerned with how the divorce will affect them: Who will I live with? Will I move? Where will Mommy live or where will Daddy live? Will I go to a new school? Can I still go to soccer camp this summer? Be honest when addressing your child's concerns, and remind her that the family will get through this, even though it may take some time.

Reducing Your Child's Stress
Divorce brings with it a lot of changes and a very real sense of loss. Kids - and parents- grieve the loss of the kind of family they had hoped for, and they especially grieve the loss of the presence of a parent. That's why some children - even after the finality of divorce has been explained to them - still hold out hope that their parents will someday get back together. Mourning the loss of a family is normal, but over time both you and your child will come to some sort of acceptance of the changed circumstances.

How can you decrease the stress your child feels over the changes brought on by divorce? Mainly by learning to respond to her expressions of emotion.

  • Invite conversation. Your child needs to know that her feelings are important to you and that they'll be taken seriously.
  • Help your child put her feelings into words. Your child's behavior can often clue you in to her feelings of sadness or anger. Let her voice her emotions and help her to label them, without trying to change them or explain them away. You might say: "It seems as if you're feeling sad right now. Do you know what's making you feel so sad?" Be a good listener when she responds, even if it's hard for you to hear.
  • Legitimize your child's feelings. Saying things like, "No wonder you feel sad" or "I know it feels like the hurt may never go away, but it will" lets your child know that her feelings are valid. Encourage her to get it all out before you start offering ways to make it better.
  • Offer support. Ask your child, "What do you think will help you feel better?" She might not be able to name something, but you can suggest a few ideas - maybe just to sit together for a while or to take a walk or to hold a favorite stuffed animal. Younger kids might especially appreciate an offer to call Daddy on the phone or to make a picture to give to Mommy when she comes at the end of the day.

Expect that your child's adjustment could take a while. Some emotional and behavioral reactions to the stress of divorce last for months or even a year. Some may be much more temporary, lasting only until the situation stabilizes and a child's routine can be re-established.

It's also important to remember that these responses do not necessarily indicate permanent problems. Most of the time children's emotional concerns following divorce are temporary, if handled with sensitivity. Being attentive to the signs your child sends about her feelings can help you to help her cope with them.

Reactions to Stress
Below are some signals that represent a child's reaction to stress at various ages:

Birth to Age 2 Years
Children this age require consistency and routine and are comforted by familiarity. An infant may be distressed by inpredictable schedules, too many transitions, or abrupt separations. Signals that an infant is feeling distressed include increased amounts of fussiness or crying and changes in eating or sleeping habits. Children in this age group are sensitive to separations. Separation anxiety can result in withdrawn, distressed, or clingy behavior.

Ages 2 to 4 Years
Children this age need consistent caregiving, but as your child develops long-term memory and language skills, he becomes more self-reliant. Signals that a child in this age group is under stress include continued worries about separation and regression to earlier behaviors, such as thumb sucking, bedwetting, and problems sleeping through the night. Fussiness and anger at you or your spouse may also occur. A preschooler may cry frequently, engage in power struggles, regress to "baby" behaviors, and have tantrums.

Ages 6 to 8 Years
Between 6 and 8 years, children need individual time with each parent to continue being reassured that they are loved. Fairness becomes an important issue; your child may want to be sure both you and your spouse get the same amount of time with him. Children this age are also interested in issues such as who is to blame or who is at fault. If your child expresses hope of reuniting your family, make sure he spends time with both of you separately to help cement the reality of the situation. Your child's feelings of unhappiness may be expressed as sadness, anger, or aggression. He may have problems with friendships or in school or stress may take the form of physical problems, such as upset stomachs or headaches.

Ages 9 to 12 Years
As children reach this age, they become more involved with activities apart from their parents. When divorced parents reside close to one another, equal time-sharing may work, but preteens may need different schedules to accommodate their changing priorities. School, community interests, and friendships begin to take precedence for children in this age range. Your child may refuse to share time with you and your spouse equally and may try to take sides. Expect this behavior and don't take it personally when it occurs. Warning signs for this age group include peer difficulties, loneliness, depression, anger, or physical symptoms like headaches or stomachaches and learning problems. Role reversals - when a child feels compelled to support or care for an emotionally distraught parent at his own emotional expense - can also arise. This is not a healthy situation for the child. Parents who recognize role reversal in their family need to find ways to get emotional support for themselves and relieve the burden from their child.

Ages 12 to 15 Years
Children in this age group need consistent support from both parents but may not accept equal time-sharing of their living arrangements. They may externalize blame for the divorce to one or both parents and may become controlling by demanding to stay in one place or to switch residences constantly. Depression, moodiness, acting out, poor performance in school, use of alcohol or other drugs, sexual activity, or chronic oppositional behavior can all signal that a teen is having trouble. Regardless of whether such troubles are related to the divorce, they are serious problems that affect a teen's well-being and indicate the need for outside help.

Ages 15 to 18 Years
Teens in this age group may become focused on establishing their independence and on social and school activities, and they may become intolerant of their parents' problems. Although your teen still needs your support, he may also tire of worrying about you. Talking frequently with your teen about his feelings may be helpful. Although teens may want to see their parents happy, they may have mixed feelings about seeing their parents dating other people. They may feel that condoning parental dating would be disloyal to the other parent. Older teens who need help may have behavior problems, exhibit depression, show poor school performance, run away from home, or get into trouble with the law.

Fighting in Front of Your Child
Although the occasional argument between parents is reasonable and even expected in a healthy family, living in a battleground of continual hostility and unresolved conflict can place a heavy psychological burden on your child. Traumatic events like screaming, fighting, arguing, or violence can make your child
fearful and apprehensive. Unable to deal with these fears, your child may become emotionally upset, controlling, or withdrawn.

Witnessing your hostility also presents an inappropriate behavioral model for your child, who is still learning how to deal with his own impulses. Children's long-term adjustment to divorce is highly related to ongoing hostility between parents. Children whose parents maintain anger and hostility are more likely to have continued emotional and behavioral difficulties.

Talking with a mediator or divorce counselor can help divorcing couples air their grievances and hurt to each other in a way that does not cause harm to the children. Though it may be difficult, working together in this way will spare the child the harm caused by continued bitterness and anger.

Adjusting to a New Living Situation
Because divorce can be such a big change in your child's life, adjustments in living arrangements should be handled gradually.

There are several types of living situations to consider: one parent may have custody; there may be joint custody (where both parents share in the legal decisions about the child, but the child lives primarily with one parent and visits the other); or shared joint custody (where decisions are shared and so is physical custody). It's becoming increasingly common for parents who live close by to share custody of their child.

Whatever arrangement you choose, your child's needs should always come first. Avoid getting involved in a tug of war as a way to win over your former spouse. When deciding how to handle holidays, birthdays, and vacations, stay focused on what's best for the child.

After the Divorce
It's important to maintain as much normalcy as possible after a divorce by keeping regular routines, including meal routines, rules of behavior, and methods of
discipline. Relaxing limits, especially during a time of change, tends to make children insecure. Resist the urge to drop routines and spoil a child grieving over a divorce. As one expert suggests, the only way a child should be spoiled is with unconditional love.

Parents should also work hard to keep their parental roles in place. Your child, no matter how empathetic, is still a child. If you confide in your child, she may have difficulty relating to her other parent. This means not blaming the other parent or putting your child in the middle of an adult situation that she doesn't have the maturity to handle.

Consistency in routine and discipline across the households is important. Similar expectations regarding bedtimes, rules, and homework will reduce anxiety and give your child the message that you and your ex-spouse are working together and cannot be manipulated.

Don't be ashamed to ask for professional help. Divorce is a major life crisis for a family. But if you and your former spouse can work together, you can continue to be good parents to your child.

Here are some other recommendations to keep in mind.

  • Get help dealing with your own painful feelings about the divorce. If you are able to make a healthy adjustment, your child will be more likely to do so too. Also, getting needed emotional support and being able to air your feelings and thoughts with an adult will lessen the possibility that your child is shouldering the unfair burden of your emotional concerns. This may include trusted friends or family members or a therapist.
  • Be patient with yourself and with your child. Emotional concerns, loss, and hurt following divorce takes time to heal and often happens in phases. That's healthy.
  • Resist the temptation to make up for the child's loss with material things, food treats, or special privileges. Emotional hurt is best healed with care and support from loved ones, not things.
  • Recognize the signals of stress for your child's age. Consult your child's doctor or a child therapist for guidance on how to handle specific problems you're concerned about.

Many of the elements that help children thrive and be emotionally healthy in an intact family are the same ones that help children thrive and be emotionally healthy members of a divorced family. With good support, children can and do successfully make the adjustment to divorce.

Updated and reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: October 2001
Originally reviewed by:
Steve Dowshen, MD

Source:  KidsHealth www.KidsHealth.com is a project of The Nemours Foundation which is dedicated to improving the health and spirit of children. Today, as part of its continuing mission, the Foundation supports the operation of a number of renowned children's health facilities throughout the nation, including the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, and the Nemours Children's Clinics throughout Florida. Visit The Nemours Foundation to find out more about them and its health facilities for children http://www.nemours.org/no/