6 Common Effects of Divorce on Children and How You Can Help Them Adjust
Marriage is a beautiful thing. It's when two people decide to become one and they vow to be there for each other through thick and thin. And, even though every marriage has its difficulties, there are married couples who can honestly say that they are enjoying or they enjoyed being married. However, although it is one of the most fulfilling experiences in life, it is also one of the most challenging ones.
Even if people genuinely love each other and do their best to make the marriage work, sometimes things just don't work out. No one who truly loves their partner gets married intending to divorce. Generally, people get married with the intention of living happily ever after together. But, they soon realize that marriage is not a bed of roses. So, unfortunately, a lot of marriages end in divorce.Divorce Affects the Entire Family
The problem with divorce is that if the divorcing couple has children, the separation will be difficult for the entire family because both the parents and the children will be affected. While some divorcing parents try to assist their children to deal with the divorce, others can be oblivious to the fact that their children are affected and therefore need help to adjust to the breakup. It's important to point out that it's not that the divorcing parents do not care about their children, it's simply that they will be struggling mentally, physically, and emotionally to cope with the transition themselves. And, in the confusion and pain, they forget to also prioritize the emotional and mental needs of their children.The Effects of Divorce on Children
The effects of divorce on children usually differ based on factors such as age and specific temperaments. While some kids can be very understanding and therefore react relatively well to the divorce, others struggle a lot with the transition. The key thing to remember if you are divorcing your spouse is that children are generally resilient. All they need is help to deal with the major changes that come with a divorce. With proper support, they will see the divorce transition as an adjustment as opposed to a crisis.
So, before you file for divorce, try to put your differences aside briefly so that you can discuss the best way to assist your children to adjust to the breakup. Making sure that your children are coping well with the separation will also help you adjust to the new norm of being a co-parent. If you have plans to file for divorce as a parent, you can expect any or some of the following common effects of divorce on children.1. Mental Health Issues
One of the most common effects of divorce on children and adolescents is that they may develop mental health problems. The risk of developing psychological issues usually increases regardless of gender, culture, or age when parents split up. It is not uncommon for divorce to cause an adjustment disorder in kids, which usually resolves in a couple of months. And, chances of developing anxiety and depression are higher in kids from divorced parents.2. Poor Academic Performance
A divorce can also affect the academic performance of children. This is especially true if the children are not assisted properly with the divorce transition. Generally, children from divorced families are more likely to have difficulties at school if the break-up was unexpected. But, where the divorce was foreseen, the result as far as academic performance is concerned is not the same.3. Behavior Problems
Another effect of divorce on kids that parents who are about to divorce need to watch out for is behavior problems. Kids from divorced families exhibit more externalizing problems like conduct disorders, impulsive behavior, and delinquency than children from two-parent families. These children are also more likely to be involved in more conflict with their peers, either at school or in the neighborhood.4. Risk-Taking Behaviors
Adolescents from divorced families are more likely to take part in risky behavior, including early sexual activity and substance use. They usually start drinking alcohol and taking drugs, as well as getting involved in sexual activity earlier than their peers.5. Anger or Irritability
Some children may become angry or irritable after their parents' divorce. The anger and irritability are usually a result of being overwhelmed by the separation of their parents and not knowing how to process the feelings associated with the sudden change in the family setup. They may direct this anger at their parents, friends, or even themselves. For most kids, the anger dissipates in a matter of weeks.6. Feelings of Guilt
One more effect of divorce on kids is feeling guilty. It is very common for kids to look for reasons why their parents made the decision to split up. In some instances, they end up blaming themselves for the divorce, thinking that they must have done something wrong. While feeling guilty is a typical effect of divorce on kids, it can cause further problems. Guilt can lead to health problems such as stress and depression.How to Help Children Adjust
The following strategies can help to lessen the psychological impact divorce has on kids:
Co-parenting must be done peacefully - One of the best ways to help your children to adjust after a divorce is to co-parent peacefully. In general, when conflict between parents is extreme, this increases the children's distress. There is also a link between blatant hostility like shouting or threatening each other and behavior problems in kids. Even minor tension can affect a child emotionally and mentally. If you are struggling to co-parent peacefully, seek professional help.
Do not put children in the middle - There is no need to put children in a position where they have to pick which parent they like best, or to communicate to your ex-spouse via your children. If you create a situation where your children are caught in the middle, chances that they will suffer from depression and anxiety are high.
Discipline them consistently - Come up with rules that are age-appropriate which your child or children must follow. The rules must be followed through with reasonable consequences. When divorced parents discipline their kids effectively, it reduces delinquency and enhances academic performance.
Make them feel safe - When parents separate, it often triggers fear of abandonment and worries about the future in kids. You can prevent the anxiety that is caused by such fear and concerns by making sure that your kids feel loved and secure. Children from divorced families who feel loved and secure are less likely to experience mental issues.
Keep an eye on your adolescents - Although watching for teenagers acting out is something that is expected of every parent, divorced or not, divorced parents' kids are more likely to exhibit behavior problems than those being raised by a couple. As such, it is even more important to monitor what your adolescent kids are doing and who they are spending time with. This helps to minimize the chances of them abusing substances or becoming sexually active early. It also helps to reduce academic problems.
Get professional help - Going through a divorce can be very stressful. To help reduce your stress levels and to also learn how to help your children cope with the divorce, you can consider seeing a psychologist. Talk therapy will help both the adults and the children to adjust to the changes in the family.
One of the hardest things to face in life is a divorce. What makes it even harder is when you have kids involved. Not only do you have to deal with your own stress and anxiety, but you also have to prioritize the emotional and psychological needs of your children. Being well-informed about the effects of divorce on children and how you can help them adjust will make the transition more bearable. If you have any questions concerning divorce, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen for a consultation.