It’s an unfortunate fact that the divorce rates are going up all over the world. Fifty percent of children in America will see their parents’ marriage break up before their eyes. The same amount may also see a second marriage break up as well. This leads to many suffering the adverse effects of divorce on children.
Needless to say, these statistics are pretty overwhelming. However, a little knowledge can go a long way. Knowing more about divorce and its effects on children may help many of us to handle situations better. This may not reduce the rates of divorce but could help us raise happier, more well-adjusted kids.
Why Should You Know About The Effects Of Divorce On Your Child?
You need to understand the effect of divorce on children so you can figure out the emotional impact on their young minds.
Young children are often scared, confused, and frustrated at having to be shuffled between two homes. They may also feel that if their parents don’t love each other anymore, they might stop loving them at some point.
Therefore, it’s essential to understand the effects of divorce on children so you’re able to prevent any dangerous effects in the long term.
The Major Effects Of Divorce On Children
To understand how divorce affects children, we should look at the different types of effects.
Since every child and situation is different, some or all of the following effects are to be expected:
There are several factors about divorce that contribute to the level of stress on a child’s mind.
First off, they lose regular contact with at least one parent. In most areas, this parent is usually the father. This reduced relationship means a weakening of the bond between parent and child.
The child’s connection to the custodial parent also suffers. Single mothers often have fewer chances of showing support and affection post-divorce. They also tend to discipline their children less consistently and less effectively. This might mostly be due to the increased responsibilities on them.
Other stress factors are related to finances, changing schools, living with a harried parent, moving places, and being deprived of several things the children used to take for granted.
2. Further Adjustment
Losing one parent is hard enough, but gaining another parent may cause further confusion and the need to adjust even more.
Many divorced adults are remarried within a few years after the incident. This causes the family dynamic to change drastically, especially if the union brings more kids into the family.
Step-parents and step-siblings, especially on both the parents’ side, could mean a lot more changes. Plus, the second marriage is even more likely to fail than the first one. Hence, kids might see many breakups and separation before they reach adulthood.
This could create a permanent feeling of instability and confusion.
3. Mental Health at Risk
There has been adequate research on the connection between divorced parents and the risk of mental health issues in kids.
Sadly, the connection is definitely there regardless of the gender, culture, or age of the child. Even adolescents are not immune to this risk.
The effects of divorce on children are mostly psychological and go deeper than adjustment issues. As a result, children of divorced parents are more likely to undergo anxiety issues, depression, and other disturbing mental health problems.
4. Behavioral Issues
The psychological effects of divorce on children might be externalized in several behavioral issues.
These include delinquency, impulsive behavior, and conduct disorders among many others. Such children may find it hard to adjust to school or behave in a normal fashion. They may hence get into more conflicts at school.
5. Weakened Academic Results
The children’s academic performance is likely to go down.
They not just more likely to score lower than other children, but they’re also more prone to playing truant altogether.
The effects of divorce on children also include a higher rate for dropping out. These rates are then linked to the decreased chances of going to college and having an established, stable life in the future.
6. More risks
The children of divorced parents are more likely to take risks when they become adolescents.
The same goes for teenagers who experience their parents divorcing. These risks are not the good kinds, either, but include trying out alcohol earlier, being more vulnerable to trying drugs, smoking, and other ill-advised habits.
7. Adulthood problems
It’s hard enough to be an adult, but the effects of divorce on children lead to adulthood being even more difficult than usual.
Even if the adjustment and confusion issues are no longer there, the psychological effects can last a lifetime. As adults, such children often undergo mental health issues, psychiatric hospitalizations, and substance abuse.
Even if these issues aren’t there, adults who have seen their parents breaking up might be less successful in their careers, education, and social connections. These include romantic relationships, which they might not be able to handle properly. In fact, they’re more likely to go through divorce themselves.
8. Negative effects on physical health
Marriage is a union between two people, but divorce usually involves the children directly.
These effects aren’t just in terms of being psychologically disturbed by seeing their parents split up, but could also be manifested in physical ways.
Studies have shown that children living with both biological parents are healthier than children of divorce. The latter are more prone to issues like asthma, speech impediments, headaches, and even physical injuries.
Strategies To Make Your Child Safe From The Adverse Effects Of Divorce On Children
There are certain strategies you can use to protect your child from the negativity of divorce.
Let’s explore how to apply those strategies to reduce the effects of divorce on children.
1. Practice peaceful co-parenting
Don’t show hostility towards your former partner after the divorce, especially not in front of the children.
You may seek therapy just to co-parent with your ex in an entirely different way. In any case, make sure that there's little to no tension, raised voices, or conflict that touches your child in any way.
2. Keep kids out of it
Parents of divorce shouldn’t be asking their children who their favorite parent is, or forcing them to compare with their step-parents. It’s also not appropriate to give them negative messages for the other parent. This could make a child more anxious and prone to depression.
3. Build a healthy connection with your child
Make sure that your child feels comfortable with you and is open to talking about their feelings.
Give them even more warmth, consideration, and support than ever. They’re definitely in need of it.
Maintain communication with them and try not to have any sort of conflict in difficult situations. Having a healthy relationship here could help your child perform better in school and even raise their self-esteem.
4. Set consistent rules
The discipline of your child shouldn’t take a back seat to your new way of life.
Be sure to establish rules that are age-appropriate and follow through with them regularly. Any laxity in this regard may lead to spoiling the child and worsening the effects of divorce on children.
Establishing a discipline system may reduce delinquency and even improve your kids in their academic performance.
5. Monitor their social circle
Monitor your children and adolescents with great care. Pay attention to their company and their pastimes.
This could reduce their likelihood of acting out or getting into trouble.
Should You Stay Married To Avoid The Negative Effects Of Divorce On Children?
Divorce may be a huge trauma for children, especially the younger ones. However, staying together simply for the wellbeing of children is usually not deemed to be the best choice.
If cheating, mistrust, constant arguments, abuse, and other serious issues are the cause for splitting, staying together would likely cause the child even more trauma. Instead of feeling guilty about a divorce, they might then feel guilty for forcing their parents to stay in an unhappy marriage. In this situation, it’s wise to end your relationship.
When Is The Right Time To Seek Professional Help For Your Children?
You may notice your children having behavioral issues or other problems right after your divorce.
However, they may not require professional help immediately. They might pull through with the help of a support system at home or school. If not, it may be time to see an expert. The problems are going to be there, but they shouldn't persist.
You should start small, by talking to a trusted pediatrician. They’ll be able to refer to you therapy or other services which may give your child the support they need. You’ll also have to decide whether family or individual therapy is best in your situation. A support group, for instance, might help the child meet other kids who’ve been through the same changes they have.
Wrapping It Up
As with all situations, every divorce is unique.
If the situation at home was ugly or negative enough, a child may actually be affected physically and psychologically from a divorce. However, the traumatic effects might still be there even if it was a friendly separation.
It’s apparent that there are several negative effects of divorce on children. Fortunately, as a parent, you can mitigate these effects to a large extent. Therefore, you need to be very careful in dealing with your own kids as they’ve gone through one of the most traumatic incidents of their lifetime. The effects could last for a long time, so it’s wise to consider professional therapy.