This is a question that weighs heaviest on the hearts and minds of divorcing parents. Most experts agree that divorce indeed affects children. This is the general response to the question. Some parents would also like to know how divorce will affect their children.
However, some proponents would argue otherwise and claim that this is not always the case. One of the many instances in which divorce doesn’t necessarily cause damage to the kids is when there has been a high-level of conflict between the parents. Children and parents alike are better off apart, more especially immediately following the aftermath. When dad and mom often go at each other, it easily creates a toxic environment at home that the child would rather get away from. And here, divorce brings the much-needed relief from all this stress. But this would generally depend on the age of the children. How an 8 or 9-year-old would react to parental divorce is relatively different from how adolescents would respond.
In many U.S. cases, nonetheless, divorce does affect children, especially in homes that experience relatively low conflict levels. One U.S. study asserts that about half of all cases fit this description.
Reasons why a divorce can affect your children negatively
There are two main reasons why your child can be affected by divorce. One is decreased resources.
Once divorced, it’s always tricky to use a total family’s income to support two households rather than just one. Most of the lone parents would consequently have to depend on government benefits. Since less income, less time and less support affect the parent, they will also have a negative effect on the kids.
Often, the father would be the displaced parent. He would ordinarily have to make extra effort to remain in the lives of his children. But this almost certainly isn’t the case. This scenario where the father has a reduced level of day to day involvement in his kids mostly affects the teenage kid. In return, the single parent has to carry the bulk of the parenting responsibility and can either be too authoritarian or be a passive parent. While this isn’t the case in all homes led by a lone parent, some of these kids end up doing worse in such a family setting.
The second reason is that children look and perceive divorce differently. While the cause for the split is obvious among the parents, this isn’t always the case among children. One day, everything looks fine, there are a few sour moments, but they don’t last. Then the next day, the parents split up. Kids always wonder what happened, if they are the cause for the split up or that’s just how relationships are. Such thoughts can warp the way your child thinks about relationships when they become adults. When the parents seem to get along just fine separately, it becomes even more confusing, and the kids don’t just understand why the two separated in the first place. That’s the reason why cooperative parenting, in most cases do little to children in divorced families. It is how your kids perceive divorce, and not how you think they understand it.
How will divorce affect my kids? Possible effects of divorce on kids
Will divorce affect your child? This is not 100% certain. However, to some degree, it will affect your child. The next question would then be what the negative effects of divorce on children are. However, children are resilient, and with assistance from different people, this divorce transitions can be viewed as an adjustment rather than a crisis. Various factors affect how divorce will play out and, thus, its impact on your kids.
On average, children whose parents have split up have a higher risk of experiencing things like:
Divorce can bring several emotions to the forefront of a family, including the kids. Feelings of anger, confusion, anxiety, loss, and many others come from this transition. Divorce leaves most children emotionally sensitive and feeling overwhelmed. Children often need an outlet of their emotions – someone to talk to and who will actually listen to them. They may develop insecurities that may appear in the form of increased substance abuse, earlier sexual activity, increased isolation, and withdrawal from people who matter to them, etc?
Social struggles and peer influence
Research suggests that children who’ve undergone divorce are affected socially. They may have a harder time relating to others, may be more aggressive, and have relatively fewer social contracts. Their peers may easily influence them too.
Engaging in destructive behavior
Children who have gone through a divorce, in their previous 20 years are more likely to engage in destructive behavior, crime, rebellion, etc. Most of them would indicate they picked smoking habits or even using prescription drugs.
Given the added stress of divorce on kids, it’s no surprise that these issues can take a toll on them, including having physical issues. Children who’ve gone through a divorce have a higher perceptibility to sickness, some of which can originate from factors such as lack of sleep. Other signs, such as depression, can also appear, aggravating the feelings of loss.
Poor performance in school
Children from divorced families perform worse in school on average, more especially during the first few years following the divorce of their parents. The changing dynamics in the family may leave many confused and stressed. Less parental supervision and more financial strain are also contributing factors.
Loss of faith in marriage
While these children may have stable relationships when they become adults, they are more likely to get divorced themselves. Some studies indicate that this propensity to divorce increases by two or three times as compared to kids from non-divorced families. There is also a chance that they will cohabit with a romantic partner before they can commit.
Tips to help mitigate the effects of divorce on your kids
- Provide a loving and caring environment where your kids can freely share their feelings
- Provide emotional support all around the kids’ lives
- Honestly answer any questions thrown at you in age-appropriate ways
- Ensure your children have a social support network from their peers
- Offer moderate rules; not too strict or too slack
- Stick to the same parenting style before and after divorce
- Get a counselor or therapist who understands about divorce to speak to your children