How Does Divorce Affect Children?

One of the unfortunate consequences of a divorce is the affect it has on the children. To avoid this issue, some couples aim to remain married to keep things under wraps and to help children feel secure. Is that the best way to do things? Are divorces so catastrophic to children that getting out of a bad marriage is unthinkable?

How divorce will affect your children depends on several factors. The rockiness of the marriage, the parental relationship, the age of the children, and the post-divorce support of the children can determine how the young ones fare. Yet, there will always be natural grief as would happen with any loss or unfamiliarity. When faced with divorce, here are some things to keep in mind with your children.

When children learn that their parents are divorcing, they may experience a real sense of shock. However, psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington and her graduate student, Anne Mitchell Elmore, of the University of Virginia observed that immediately after their parents’ divorce, young ones experience negative effects like anxiety, anger and disbelief. By the end of the second year, those reactions diminish. Unfortunately, a small number of kids experience these distressing feelings beyond that time frame and into adulthood.

Divorce can introduce a drastic shift in young ones lives. If both parents lived in the home, the children can feel torn and disrupted by visitation arrangements. A change in household income may present a change in the quality of life and quality time with the child if the resident parent must take on extra work. Both parents can reassure the young one by being attentive to their needs and implementing some routines that guarantee stability.

Since high levels of parental conflict can adversely affect a child’s adjustment to divorce, it would be advisable to not speak ill of the other parent, use the children as a bargaining chip or otherwise expose children to discord. If the custodial parent is having a hard time dealing with the divorce, it can make it harder for the child to move forward so the more emotionally stable parent may need to have custody. Enrolling the support of teachers, family, and where possible, a healthy coparent can make all the difference.

It’s important to note that little ones can fantasize and wish for their parents to be back together. Efforts should be made to avoid giving the child false hope so they can adjust to their new reality. Be resolute in your decision with your ex and don’t flip flop, still allowing them to come by and be affectionate. Also, if there are family dinners, don’t invite the non-custodial parent over giving the impression that things are as they were before the uncoupling. It is best to approach things in an amicable, yet strictly business manner.

Following divorce, all efforts should be made to take care of the emotional and physical well-being of your children. They are incredibly resilient and can enjoy relatively stable lives if one or both parents make sure of it. By spending time with them, reassuring them of your love, implementing structured routines, and making sure their physical needs are met, your children can thrive in spite of divorce.

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