Mumbai, Nov. 27 -- Hrithik Roshan and Sussanne Khan have been in the news because of their divorce proceedings. While everyone is busy talking about them -- besides dragging their friends in - the focus has been off their two kids, Hrehaan (8) and Hridhaan (6). Yet, from whatever public appearances they've made, the couple seems to have maintained a healthy relationship with their kids.
Other celebrity couples who have been or are still locked in similar court battles include Leander Paes and Rhea Pillai, and Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. While Hrithik and Sussanne have maintained a dignified stand about their break-up, Leander and Rhea, and Tom and Katie have had a very public spat during their separation.
But it isn't just about celebrities. The divorce rate in India has gone up over the years. Last year, a national daily reported how a leading matrimonial website had started counselling centres and online campaigns to make sure that youngsters lived a happy married life. The report went on to say that such websites feared losing business because of the rise in divorces. Divorce lawyer Umesh Chary says, "The number of divorce cases that I have been receiving over the years has increased. It's the children of these couples who have the hardest time."
A divorce can have a major effect on children, and on their upbringing. Dr Swati Popat Vats, educator and parenting counsellor, explains, "It's not the divorce or the distance from a parent caused by a separation that impacts children as much. A child is used to not seeing his parents too often because of work or travel schedules. The stress and tension between the parents, their angst, anxiety or depression spills over to the kids. At times, both parents ask the child to keep away from the other, or keep secrets from one another. The stress caused by this is destructive -- emotionally, socially and cognitively,"she says. Vats is also the director of a preschool, and experiences different behavioural patterns in children of divorced parents.
"At our school, we make children draw about their family. Often, they reflect the stress that many of them are experiencing at home. The squabbles, arguments and sometimes physical fights between the mother and father, or other family members leaves a negative impact on children. What compounds the problem is the tug of war that often takes place over custody," she says.
DOS AND DON'TS POST-DIVORCE
Do: Encourage your children to continue with relationships which existed before the divorce or separation (both parents' grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and close adult friends). Your children will most likely keep the feeling of family when they continue to have a pleasant, free access to both parents and their extended families.
Encourage and support the other parent in accepting an active parenting role. Share the responsibilities.
Children also feel secure when their parents take the responsibility for doing their homework or joining them in school sports day.
Make sure the children feel safe and comfortable in both homes.
Help children meet other kids in the neighborhood, so they have friends at both homes.
Don't: Raise voices, have arguments or hateful remarks and physical altercations in front of your children. Children are also harmed when they hear one parent saying bad things about the other parent. If one parent directly or indirectly creates an image of the other parent that is in any way negative, children's perception of them might change. Children will only feel as good about themselves as they do about each parent.
Use your children to pass messages to the other parent or use them to spy on your former spouse.
Fight with the other parent while dropping your child or picking him or her up from school or other locations. Deal with complicated issues when your children cannot overhear you.
Withhold phone calls to your children from their other parent.
Let your anger affect your relationship with your children.
Attempt to brainwash your child against the other parent.