The Effects of Divorce on Children


babyEven under the best of circumstances, divorce is an unfortunate and painful event, but when the divorce that involves children the amount of stress involved increases. Most parents contemplating divorce wonder about the emotional impact and long term effects the separation will have on their children. Many couples try to stay together to prevent their children from experiencing the trauma associated with divorce.

However, when the decision to file for a divorce occurs, the way that parents talk with their children will go a long way in determining how well they will handle the new living arrangements. In talking with children there are many factors that contribute to making this work best for all concerned.

Talking With Children About Divorce

Divorce can be a traumatic time for children as well as adults. Since the concept of mommy and daddy not being together as a family can be a new concept, children really do not know what to expect. However, one of the main concepts to tell the child is that it is not their fault. Often times children blame themselves for “being bad” for parents separating. It is very important that you communicate to the child that it is not their fault.

Separation Issues

One of the hardest issues to deal with in divorces is issues of separation. For the first time the child will now have mommy and daddy living in the same place. With joint custody arrangements this can be confusing for younger children and disruptive for older children. With joint custody arrangements, children now live part of the time with one parent and another time with the other parent. Most often weekends and vacation time would be split with the parent seeking joint custody. With joint custody normal activities such as participating in activities, seeing friends and other routine items can be put off when the other parent has the child.

If possible, during joint custody arrangements, the children need to maintain as normal a routine as possible. Make sure that the child goes to their games, dance classes, birthday parties and all the activities that they would consider normal. This, along with a room of their own, can help the transition and make separation as “normal” as possible for the child.

New Family Issues

Most times separation and ultimately divorce occurs when a couple falls out of love. With the divorce both parents can look for happiness with other people and often times will move in with another person. When this occurs, children can view this as a life changing event. Deep down children more often hope that mommy and daddy will get back together and therefore the family will be back together. However, when a new family enters the picture, the child will often regress and not accept the new arrangement.

While the new family unit is in existence, it is important that the child of the divorced couple does not feel like an outsider.  The new family needs to accept the child into that home and treat him or her as a part of the family. Also, the other parent needs to accept the new living arrangements and be supportive of the child. The child needs to be reassured that they are special and that despite the new living arrangements, they are still loved.

The effects of divorce on children will change depending on the situation and each child is different. A child’s adjustment to a separation has more to do with the way the parent’s handle their parent-child relationship during and after the divorce than any other factor. When a child receives the approval, attention, and love from both parents that they need, the intensity of the trauma from the divorce is greatly decreased.

Other Factors

Many parents do not fully take into account all the risks and the devastation their children may be experiencing during a divorce. Additional considerations for the children are the ‘life stress’ that divorce causes. The factors involved here include changing residence, changing schools, possibly changing communities, child care providers, and making new friends. All of these can contribute to feelings of loneliness for the child.

As divorce is becoming more common and common in today’s society, it is vital to realize the need for qualified professionals that specialize in counseling children in a divorced family. Children need a solid support system during a divorce and it is both parent’s responsibility to correctly provide for the emotional requirements of their children.

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I recently settled a long-term divorce with Attorney Kristal Knox representing me. She was very professional, honest, and worked in my best interest at all times. She was very accessible and has wonderful office staff to support her client’s needs in a timely manner, and I highly recommend her.

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