How are Children Affected Psychologically by Divorce?

by Scotty
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Child Health

Divorce comes bearing numerous worrisome things, like the worry about their future living situations, the uncertainty of the custody arrangement details, etc. However, divorcing parents have one worry that surpasses all others, how will the children will deal with the divorce. When a marriage comes to an end, so many parents actually consider whether staying together in the marriage would be better for the kids’ sakes. This is because most parents, being unaware of child support laws, have no idea how the split will affect their family life.  Divorce can be very stressful for children, causing long lasting psychological effects on all children.

The first 12 months are the hardest:

Research shows that children who have gone through a divorce are more likely to experience distress, anxiety, anger, and disbelief during the first year or two after the divorce. While some children show more resilience and bounce back to normal quickly, others never really get used to the changes in their routines or grow comfortable with their new living arrangements.

The emotional impact of divorce on children:

While divorce causes an emotional upheaval for the whole family, children are often most devastated as they perceive the circumstances as scary, confusing, and frustrating. Here is how children of different ages may react:

  • Younger children often cannot comprehend why they must shuffle between their parents. They also fear that their parents could stop loving them just like they stopped loving each other.
  • Slightly older children, may feel that the divorce is their fault. This causes them anxiety and lowers their self esteem.
  • Teenagers show their feelings about divorce by being becoming angrier and more crankier than usual. They may place the blame entirely on any one parent for breaking up the family.

The impact of divorce related stress:

One of the biggest causes of stress in a child after divorce is that more often than not, children lose daily contact with one parent. Divorce also affects the relationship of children with the custodial parent

For many older children, parental separation isn’t that bad.  The hardest part is dealing with all the other stressors that accompany divorce. These stressors include, but are not limited to moving to a new home, changing schools, and living with a single parent who might be feeling more than a little disoriented.

Other common dilemmas faced by the family after divorce that have psychological effects are:

  • Financial difficulties as the total family income decreases by half or more.
  • Mental health problems are common among children of divorced parents.
  • Adjustment disorder in children that may resolve itself within a few months.
  • Higher depression and anxiety rates
  • Behavior Problems like conduct disorders, delinquency, and impulsive behavior.
  • More conflict with peers
  • Poor Academic Performance
  • Risk-Taking Behaviors like substance use, drinking, and early engagement in sexual activities.

Luckily, parents can take some measures to reduce the psychological effects of divorce on your children. As long as you research the facts about child support, learn a few supportive parenting strategies, and most importantly, are “present” for your children to talk to, you can help your children adjust to the changes brought about by divorce.

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