The Negative Impact of Divorce on a Child’s Growth and Development
One of the most challenging issues of divorce is the effect it can have on the kids.
It’s true that many families stay together to avoid impacting children negatively and their emotional well being. Our greatest fear is that our children will be inherently changed because of the breakdown of our marriages, which seems incredibly unfair.
The truth is that we are going to negatively affect our children’s well being whether we get a divorce or not. Children of loveless marriages have a warped idea of what a healthy relationship looks like, while those whose parents divorce may feel that marriage is a hopeless endeavor.
Though divorce is stressful for all kids, there are some ways in which we can soften the impact at each stage.
Below you’ll find the periods of a child’s life, along with issues they may face as a child of divorce.
The process of divorce
The actual divorce itself is nothing more than a piece of paper confirming legal separation. It is a relatively simple, small item in comparison to the other agonizing process that comes with it.
It is not the divorce that can damage your children, but the process of this separation.
Routines are upset, living arrangements are altered, and for the first year, your child will have a difficult task of adjusting. Children, above all, crave stability. The process of separation drastically upsets this and if it is not dealt with quickly, it can have lifelong issues.
To soften the impact of the separation, you should keep your children in the loop. The difficulty of this is that your children are likely to see you as fallible, human. That’s okay – they were going to find out sooner or later – but it also creates awareness in them that the divorce is not their fault.
When you start to reorder a routine or living arrangements, be sure to give them the freedom to decide how they would like to live. You make every effort to achieve a balance between both parents. In effect, you can use the divorce as an opportunity to focus on some quality time with children, that they might not have gotten before.
For young children, the effects of divorce may not be immediately apparent. Some kids internalize the difficulty they are having in understanding. This is something to be acutely aware of, as this kind of repression can come out in self-destructive ways.
Children of a divorced family are more likely to suffer from mental health problems, behavioral issues or disillusionment. You should always remain open and honest with your children, not just to be transparent yourself, but to urge them to be also.
Once you’ve established this open dialogue, you can empower your child and teach them ways in which to cope with the complex feelings they are enduring. The chances are that as a new divorcee you are feeling something similar.
In any case, don’t rule out professional help for either you or your child.
In later life
Often, the impact of a divorce on a child’s psyche may not come out for many years.
As they grow through adolescence, you are likely to start seeing behavior that has the divorce as its root cause. Teenagers whose parents are divorced are more likely to take stupid risks with their well-being, so maintain that open dialogue with them as best as you can, and keep an eye on those who they hang around with.
There is a high possibility that your children, as they become adults themselves, will encounter difficulties in having serious relationships. Such events can be combated by discussing the issues that led to your divorce and encouraging them to be open about their own troubles.
This way you can draw a line of distinction between your own marital issues and their own difficulties.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.