Effect of parents’ divorce on children
Posted on Jul 10, 2022 | Author Dr. Bhavna Barmi & team
While divorce has both positive and negative consequences, it is a trying time in a family’s life because it signifies the end of a marriage. The emotional rollercoaster, combined with the challenges of figuring out the legalities, tends to consume the couple’s time, putting the child on the sidelines. Coming to terms with the realisation that their parents no longer love one other, will not be married to each other, and will not stay together is incredibly surprising and uncomfortable for a child (of any age).
When they transition from sharing a roof with both parents to having separate ones with each, life as they know it is utterly disrupted. After years of consistency, decreased contact with one parent has a negative impact on the parent-child bond.
Divorce causes emotional anguish for the entire family, but it can be particularly frightening, perplexing, and upsetting for children. Children frequently struggle to understand why they must go between two homes. They may be frightened that if their parents can stop loving one other, they would ultimately lose their parents’ love for them. Children may believe that they are to blame for the divorce. They may believe they have done something wrong or have misbehaved. As a result of the divorce and the changes it entails, teenagers may become outraged. They may blame one parent for the breakdown of the marriage, or they may blame one or both parents for the family’s problems.
Furthermore, transitioning to a new house, moving back and forth throughout the week and on weekends, and possibly adjusting to a step-parent makes coping with the shift in the family dynamic even more difficult and stressful for children. In children and teenagers, divorce may raise the risk of mental health issues. Regardless of their age, gender, or culture, kids with divorced parents risk increased psychological issues. Children may experience short-term adjustment issues as a result of divorce.
According to studies, children of divorced parents had higher rates of sadness and anxiety.Children from divorced households are more likely than children from two-parent families to have externalising difficulties such conduct disorders, delinquency, and impulsive behaviour. Children may encounter more conflict with classmates after a divorce, in addition to increased behaviour difficulties.
Academically, children from divorced households do not necessarily perform as well since there mind are always occupied with a lot of things happening around them at that time. Children of divorced parents are more likely to engage in risky behaviour, such as substance addiction and early sexual participation.
Children who have been through a divorce or separation are more prone to commit crimes, which might land them in juvenile detention. When children see the breakdown of a marriage, they begin to have concerns about love and harmony in a partnership. They have challenges with trust and find it difficult to resolve conflicts in relationships. As adults, such youngsters will enter any relationship with a negative perspective.
Children of all ages can be affected by the repercussions of divorce. Newborn children and youngsters in early infancy up to the age of 18 months can sense the tension between their parents in the family home. Small children, on the other hand, are unable to comprehend the reasoning behind the arguments. Irritable and clinging behaviour is common in young children under the age of 18 months. Such young children are prone to regression and developmental delays.
Toddlers and pre-schoolers, on the other hand, who are between the ages of 18 months and six years, have a different reaction. Divorce can have a significant influence on a child as young as six years old. This age group has a close relationship with their parents and is aware of what is going on. They are more prone to believe they are to blame for their parents’ divorce. These children, in turn, frequently scream more and need more attention than usual.
The effects of divorce on a 6-year-old can include thumb sucking, refusal to potty train, and sleeping difficulties or sleeping alone. The impacts of divorce on children aged 8 and up to 11 years are different from those on younger children. The maturation of school-aged youngsters is common. Typically, they would have grown up in a nurturing atmosphere. One of the long-term repercussions of divorce on an 8-year-old is the development of a dread of being abandoned. They are more likely to comprehend their parents’ conflicts. These children will also be concerned about the possibility of losing a parent. The impact of divorce on children as young as eight years old cause them to believe that their parents are cruel or greedy, and they show their rage in a variety of ways, including at school.
Teenagers with divorced parents are more likely to have academic issues, such as bad grades, difficulty sleeping, increased stress, hostility toward one or both parents, and despair. It’s important to understand that a child may suffer in multiple ways as a result of the divorce. Separation can have a long-term impact on children, and the consequences of their parents’ divorce or separation may linger for years.
Here are some methods for assisting children in dealing with the psychological repercussions of divorce:
• It’s been proved that when their parents are arguing, their children are more upset. Children’s behaviour problems have been connected to overt animosity, such as screaming and threatening one another. Minor tension, on the other hand, can aggravate a child’s distress. If you’re having problems co-parenting with your ex-spouse, seek professional help.
• Asking children to choose which parent they like or offering them messages to transmit to other parents is inappropriate. Children who find themselves in the middle of a crisis are more likely to experience despair and worry.
• Children’s adjustment to divorce may be aided by positive communication, parental affection, and low levels of conflict. Following divorce, a solid parent-child relationship has been found to assist children develop improved self-esteem and academic success.
• After a divorce, parents who pay close attention to what their children do and with whom they spend their time are less likely to see their children develop behaviour problems. This correlates to a lesser likelihood of substance abuse and fewer academic issues.
• Mental health problems are more common among children who question their ability to cope with change and who perceive themselves as powerless victims. Teach your child that he has the mental strength to deal with divorce, no matter how difficult it is.
• Active coping mechanisms, such as problem-solving and cognitive restructuring, help children adjust to divorce better. Teach your child how to manage his thoughts, feelings, and behaviours in a healthy way.
• Anxiety can be exacerbated by fears of abandonment and worry about the future. Clinginess and the probability of mental health difficulties can both be reduced by making your child feel loved, safe, and secure.
Parents are frequently concerned about and unprepared for their children’s reactions to a divorce or separation. Children must realise that they are not to fault for the divorce, that both parents love them, and that they will be provided for their fundamental needs. Distress is expressed differently by children than it is by adults.
On the one hand, parents must strike a balance between acknowledging and appreciating their children’s negative emotions and giving clear, consistent rules and structure on the other. Children with strong parent-child ties have intrinsic resources to support their social and emotional well-being. Parent-child relationships are formed gradually and over time, with open communication and a caregiver’s capacity to be sensitive and responsive to a child’s discomfort playing a crucial role.