For couples considering divorce, fear of what lies ahead can sometimes fill your mind with endless questions. How will divorce affect your children? Will they be able to concentrate is school? Will they be able to trust their partners in future? Whether young or old, boy or girl, divorce introduces some massive changes in the life of a child.
However, while past research shows that children of divorce often suffer from poor academic performance, depression and even severe psychological and emotional issues, new research explains that these negative effects have been greatly exaggerated. When it comes to divorce, the conflict in the household might be more toxic for children than the consequences of divorce. An unwelcoming home where parents are always fighting could be detrimental to the development of a child. Although some children do go through a horrible experience, others actually feel relieved and are able to move on to greater things in their lives. In this segment, we will take a balanced approach and look at both the negative and positive effects of divorce on children.
Negative Effects of Divorce on Children
First off, divorce is always stressful for children. No matter how tough things may get, no child wants their home turned upside down unless they live in total misery and anger. Sometimes, they even feel responsible for the separation and feel the stress of their parent’s strained relationships. However, the level of distress will all depend on how the couple is behaving. Here is where parents need to step in comfort their children, reassuring them that everything will be alright. If you do an excellent job at managing the divorce, you just might be surprised how quickly the kids will adjust.
Risk of Psychological and Behavioral Problems
When a child is troubled, they have no way to master their feelings and always act out, venting on the nearest person. Children of divorce are far more likely to develop anger problems and issues with disobedience and rule violation. Other kids end up becoming socially withdrawn and depressed for extended periods of time. This of course automatically translates to poor performance in school and other activities with grades dropping at an alarming rate. All this stress and anxiety is very likely to make a child start drugs or having sexual intercourse at an early age.
Divorce can leave a lasting scar on children so severe that it still affects them even 30 years later. Most children of divorce carry some very painful and disturbing memories with them all through their lives. As a result, they develop trust issues in relationships and may not even want to get married or have kids. This however also depends on how intense and turbulent the parents’ divorce was. If it was carried out it a civil and mature manner, then the effects may not be as severe.
Positive Effects of Divorce on Children
Sense of Relief
In some marriages, the incessant fighting and conflict is so intense that the children do not even want to get home. When they do get home, they just lock themselves in their room with little communication with the parents. Fighting parents often take out their anger on kids and can turn a home into a very hostile and unwelcoming environment. If the marriage was full of anger, hostility, neglect, violence, abuse or any other source of misery for children, they will feel relieved and safer when the parents separate. Things might even work out better than before since the young ones will not be exposed to hostility. After divorce, visits from their parents will have more meaning and even get more attention from the parent than before.
Children of Divorce Take on More Responsibilities from a Young Age
Unlike more happy families where resources like finances and time might be more than abundant, children of divorce often get the shorter end of the stick. Their parents might not be able to shower them with attention, gifts and a lavish lifestyle like before. While this may seem unfair to the kids, the reality of the matter is that these children learn to appreciate the little they get and even step up to provide care and support for their siblings. This translates to much better financial planning in future and the child learning how to be responsible from a young age.
Kids Are Always Happy To See Parents Thrive After Divorce
With children, happiness does not stem from the marital status of their parents, but rather more from how loving, caring and happy the parents are and how they treat the kids. As opposed to seeing the parents bitter and fighting in the house all day just to save the marriage, children feel happier when the parents are living their lives more content, even though they are separated. This makes life much easier for them because even visits to dad and mom feel more warm and welcoming since there is nothing stressing them out.
Many parents make the mistake of trying to salvage their marriage for the good of the kids. While this may often work out in some cases, it almost always causes more harm than good for the children. If a married couple decides to get a divorce, the wisest thing they can do is sit down with their children and reassure them that divorce does not mean the end of the world. The divorce timeline becomes much easier for the young ones when they feel the parents are at peace with themselves and willing to give them all the love, care, and attention they need.