Children and the effects of divorce

When a marriage breaks up Parents may find themselves asking questions such as ” Should we stay together for the kids?” Some parents believe divorce is the only choice.

Parents may be weighing a variety of issues in their minds, from the potential future of their living situation to the uncertainty surrounding the custody arrangements, they might worry the most about how their children will handle divorce.

What is the psychological impact of divorce on children? It depends. Although divorce can be stress-inducing for children of all ages certain children rebound more quickly in comparison to other children.

It’s good to know that that parents can take action to minimize the psychological impacts of divorce on their children. Some supportive parenting strategies can be a great help in helping children adapt to the changes caused by divorce.

Why the First Year Is the Toughest

It is not surprising that studies have shown that children have the greatest difficulty during the first two years after separation. Kids tend to be afflicted with distress as well as anxiety, anger, and doubt.

However, many children seem to bounce back. They become accustomed to the changes in their routines and become comfortable with their living arrangements. Some, however, never seem to return in the direction of “normal.”

This small percent of children might experience persistent, and possibly even permanent, problems following their parent’s divorce.

Emotional Impact of Divorce

Divorce causes stress for the whole family. However, for children this can be extremely frightening as well as confusing and frustrating:

  • Children in the early years often have difficulty understanding the reason they have to go between two homes. They are often worried that if parents cease to love each other, in the future, their parents will end their love for them.
  • The grade school kids may be worried that divorce is their responsibility. They might be worried that they behaved badly or believe that they did something wrong.
  • Teenagers might be quite upset over a divorce, and also the rules it brings. They might accuse one parent of the breakup of the marriage or might be angry with the parents of one or both for the turmoil within the family.

Naturally, every circumstance is different. In the most extreme of circumstances, children might feel content with the divorce–if the divorce results in fewer arguments as well as less anxiety.

Divorce-Related Stress

The divorce process usually results in children losing everyday contact with one parent, most of the time fathers. The loss of contact can affect the parent-child bond. According to a study released in 2014, researchers have observed that many children feel less connected to their fathers following separation.

The divorce process can also affect the child’s relationship with his primary caregiver, which is typically the mother. Primary caregivers are often reported to have greater stress levels that are associated with parenting a child alone.

A study that was published in 2013 revealed that mothers tend to be less caring and less loving following divorce. In addition, their discipline is less efficient and more inconsistent.

For certain children, separation from their parents isn’t the most difficult thing to do. However, the stressors that come with it can make divorce the most challenging.

The changing of schools, the move to an entirely new location, or being a single parent who’s feeling a bit less shaky are just one of the many factors that can make divorce difficult.

The financial burdens that are common when divorced. Families often have to move into smaller homes or move neighborhoods and are often left with fewer material resources.

Risks Families Face

As per The Pew Research Center, approximately 40% of weddings across the U.S. in 2013 included one spouse who was married previously, and in 20 percent of marriages that were new, the spouses were married before the wedding.

Many children have to endure continuous changes in their family dynamics. A stepparent and perhaps several step-siblings could be a major change. In many cases, parents get married and this means a lot of modifications for children.

The rate of divorce for second marriages is more than the first marriage. Children are often subject to many divorces and separations over the years.

Mental Health Problems

Divorce can increase the risk of mental health issues for adolescents and children. Whatever the age, gender, or cultural background, children of divorced parents are more likely to suffer from psychological issues.

Divorce can cause an adjustment disorder in children, but it is cured in just a few months. However, research has observed that the rates of anxiety and depression are higher among children of divorced parents.

Behavior Problems

Children who are divorced may suffer more external problems including delinquency, conduct disorders, and impulsive behavior as compared to children from a two-parent family.  In addition to the increased problems with behavior, Children may also be experiencing more conflicts with their peers following divorce.

Poor Academic Performance

Children of divorced families do not always fare as well academically. A study published in the year 2019 showed that kids who were from divorced families tend to be struggling in school when the divorce was not expected, whereas children in families where the divorce was not likely, didn’t experience the same results.

Risk-Taking Behaviors

Children with parents who divorced have a higher risk of engaging in dangerous behavior like substance abuse and early sexual activities.

In the United States, adolescents with divorced parents consume alcohol earlier and have higher rates of smoking, alcohol tobacco, alcohol, and drug consumption than their peers.

Children whose parents separated when they were five years old or less were more at the likelihood of being sexually active before the age of 16 according to a study that was published in the year 2010. Separation from fathers was also connected to higher levels of sexual partners in teenage years.

Helping Kids Adjust

Adults who have experienced divorce in their early years may experience more issues. Rates of divorce are more prevalent for those with parents who were separated. 11 Parents are a significant factor in how children react to divorce. Here are some tips to lessen the psychological effects divorce can cause on children:

Co-Parent Peacefully

The conflict between parents that is intense has been found to increase children’s stress. Inflicting hostility through shouting and threatening each other has been associated with issues with behavior among kids.

But minor tension can also contribute to the child’s anxiety. If you have trouble co-parenting with your ex-spouse’s ex, you should seek assistance from a professional.

Avoid Putting Kids in the Middle

Children should be asked to decide the parent they prefer or giving them messages to hand out to parents of other parents isn’t right. Kids who are trapped between two parents have a higher chance of suffering from anxiety and depression.

Maintain Healthy Relationships

Positive communication, warmth from parents, and a lack of conflict can aid children in adjusting to divorce more easily. A positive relationship between parents and children has been proven to help children build self-esteem and higher academic performance after divorce.

Use Consistent Discipline

Set up appropriate rules for children of a certain age and then follow up with penalties whenever necessary. A study that was published in 2011 revealed that the effective use of discipline following divorce decreased delinquency as well as improved academic performance.

Monitor Adolescents Closely

If parents pay to what their children are doing as well as who they are spending time with, they are less likely to develop issues with their behavior following divorce. This means a less likely risk of using substances and fewer academic issues.

Empower Your Children

Children who aren’t confident in their ability to cope with changes, and who view themselves as victims in need tend to suffer mental health issues. Instruct your child that, even though divorce is a difficult process but he is mentally able to manage it.

Teach Coping Skills

Children with active coping strategies like solving problems and restructuring their cognitive abilities are more able to cope with divorce. Help your child learn to manage his emotions, thoughts, and behavior healthily and healthily.

Help Kids Feel Safe

Fear of losing your child and anxiety about the future could cause an abundance of anxiety. However, helping your child feel secure, loved and secure will not only lessen the clinginess but also decrease the chance of developing mental health issues.

Seek Parent Education

There are a variety of programs available that can help minimize the effects divorce can have on children. Parents are taught how to co-parent as well as strategies to help kids deal with the changes.

Get Professional Help

The reduction of stress levels is a great way to help your child. Take care of yourself and think about the use of talk therapy or other resources that can help you adjust to the changes happening in your family.

When to Seek Help for Your Child

Although divorce can be difficult for families, remaining in a relationship solely for the sake of children might not be the ideal choice. Children who live in households that are characterized by lots of arguments or hostility may be more at risk to develop problems with their mental health and behavior issues.

Therefore, after parental separation, it’s not unusual for children to be struggling with their feelings and behavior immediately following. If your child’s mood or behavior issues remain, seek professional help.

Begin by speaking to your child’s pediatric physician. Discuss your concerns and ask whether your child might require professional help. Referral to therapy for a talk or other services for support may be suggested.

Individual therapy can aid your child in resolving his feelings. Therapy for families is advised to address the changes in family interactions. Some communities offer children’s support groups.

Support groups allow children in specific age categories to interact with other kids who may have similar issues in the family structure.


Leave a Comment