By The Nation
With couples in Thailand now divorcing at a rate of 333 per day, a psychiatrist is offering advice on how to ease the blow for any children involved.
Krongkarn Kaewchong, deputy director of patient care at Nakhon Ratchasima Rajanagarindra Psychiatric Hospital, said the divorce rate was on the rise, chiefly in that province and in Bangkok and Chonburi.
The provincial administrative department put the national divorce rate at 24 per cent in 2004 (86,982 among 365,721 marriages), but the figures rocketed last year to 41 per cent (121,617 in 297,501 marriages).
The modern family structure is seen as the primary cause for the rise, given pressure piled on parents in their jobs and social surroundings, as well as financially. The pressure undermines tolerance, Krongkarn said.
“Divorce is common, but it’s not ‘someone else’s fault’. Newly divorced couples tend to feel incomplete because of the sentimental loss.
“But, even once married life has ended, they should persist in their parental duties to prevent mental health problems arising in their children, such as becoming easily distracted, aggressive or depressed. And the people around the couple should provide support and avoid expressing opinions about the divorce.”
Krongkarn’s other advice for single parents:
• Assure children that they were not part of the cause of the divorce. Young children haven’t yet developed logical thinking, so some might believe their bad behaviour or poor grades led to their parents splitting up.
• Maintain the children’s same lifestyle as before, as much as possible.
• Treat children the same way as before.
• Tell them the true reasons for the divorce so they can adapt better.
However, he cautioned, parents should avoid talking about their ex-spouse’s bad behaviour if it might stir hatred in the children.
They shouldn’t try and persuade children to choose sides, or “use” children to take revenge on the ex-partner.
Children shouldn’t be forced to live with one parent or the other if it might cause them to feel guilty or become fearful of being abandoned by both parents.
“Divorced parents should be concerned about their children’s potential mental problems as they yearn for parental love,” Krongkarn said. “They have to let the children speak out and express their feelings, which helps relieve their stress. The more confidence they gain, the less they’ll want to talk about it.”