5 Common Reactions Children Have To Divorce
When a marriage is in trouble, one of the most common questions parents ask themselves is, “Should we stay together for the sake of the kids?” Often the reasoning that parents have for staying together, even if they’re unhappy, is the fear of what effects a divorce will have on their children.
But what effects does a divorce actually have on kids? Even more importantly, can parents do anything to eliminate (or reduce) the effects a divorce will have?
Reactions To Divorce
Children whose parents go through a divorce will, naturally, all react in slightly different ways depending on the circumstances, but the following are some common reactions that parents should expect:
1) Anxiety: Divorce often causes children to feel tense, nervous, and anxious. Young children are more prone to this than older ones because they are more dependent on both parents. Anxious children may have trouble concentrating on schoolwork and/or extracurricular activities.
2) Stress: Many children (falsely) believe themselves to be the reason for their parents divorce, and feel responsible to “fix” the problem. This can lead to immense stress and pressure on a child, which can have a variety of negative impacts.
3) Irritability: Young children may become very irritable and/or suffer from mood swings with family and friends. Some will stop talking to anyone and withdraw, preferring to spend time quietly alone.
4) Sadness: Intense sadness can overwhelm children going through a divorce. If left unchecked, this sadness can eventually lead to depression, which may have long-term consequences on their mental health.
5) Hopelessness: Children of divorce may feel hopeless or disillusioned when they no longer have the comprehensive emotional support of both parents together. These feelings may be exacerbated if a child lives with one parent and doesn’t see the other parent anymore.
Mitigating The Impact Of Divorce
When getting a divorce, there are several things parents can do to lessen the negative impacts it will have on their kids. This includes things like:
- Don’t keep the divorce a secret
- Continue to stay involved as parents
- Create and/or maintain healthy routines
- Avoid long and messy custody disputes
- Don’t forbid meetings with the other parent
In general, the less acrimony and animosity parents show towards each other during their divorce, the better it will be for their children.
Getting Help For Children
If children are showing signs of emotional distress during a divorce, one of the best things parents can do is to seek professional help for them.
Getting the guidance, insight, and analysis of an experienced child therapist or psychologist can make a big difference, and may help prevent long-term trauma.
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