In a perfect world, people would get married, have children, and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, though, the world does not work this way and not everyone who gets married will stay married. Some people will stay married for the sake of their children because of the fear of how a divorce would affect them. Others know that staying together can be just as detrimental to children who may end up living in a proverbial war zone. So, how does divorce affect children?
The Impact of Divorce on Children
Children can be massively impacted by the divorce of their parents. The world as they know it changes and when one parent leaves the home, kids can feel abandoned. Some children will experience an immense feeling of loss and will struggle to deal with emotions such as anger, sadness, and confusion.
Young children simply may not understand what is happening, but even those old enough to know what is going on will struggle to understand why their parents cannot overcome their issues.
In some instances, divorce also means a change in home and/or school. This is even more upsetting as everything that was familiar to the child is also changing.
How Children Might React
Babies are obviously too young to know or understand what is happening, but they can pick up on the tension in a home, which can then affect how they behave. They might become clingy and struggle to settle. Toddlers will also have little understanding of what is happening but if their familiar routine is disrupted by one parent leaving, it can have a massive impact. They may struggle to sleep and could start to develop attention-seeking behaviors.
Older children often experience abandonment issues, and some will think they are to blame for one parent leaving. Others will blame the parent who stays behind, which can cause tension in the home. Some children will experience both mental and physical health issues relating to the trauma of the divorce. It is not uncommon for the impact of a divorce to affect other areas of the child’s life. They may, for example, get into fights in school, become withdrawn, or their grades will suffer.
How Can Divorcing Parents Help Their Children?
No matter how difficult your relationship is with your spouse, you will need to work together to prepare your kids for the fact that you are divorcing. Failure to do this could have a negative impact on their childhood going forward and into adulthood.
However you are feeling about the divorce and the reasons for it, it is better for your children if you can avoid putting blame on each other. Miami therapists at Psych Blossom say that children are very impressionable and things that you say in the heat of the moment can affect them for many years.
Remind your kids that you still love them and that just because you as mom and dad don’t love each other anymore does not mean that your love for them has changed. Explain that you think it is better for everyone if you separate and make sure you have a plan in place for how things will work after the divorce as this is something that children often worry about.
Be alert to how your children are acting after hearing the news and in the weeks afterwards. If they are misbehaving in school, it could be that they are trying to express their feelings and are struggling with what is going on at home. Continue to reassure your kids that both parents still love them and that you will do everything to support them through the divorce. Seek professional advice if necessary.