Most people expect the effects of divorce on a child to be negative. It is intuitive that children of divorce would be sad, angry, depressed or insecure. Unfortunately, the negative effects of divorce on children reach much further than temporary depression or discontent. Therapists who study divorce and children report seeing effects of divorce on children for up the fifteen years after the actual divorce took place. Therapists who study divorce and children report the following effects of divorce on children:
Following a divorce, children are 50 percent more likely to develop health problems, such as asthma, headaches, and depression, than prior to a divorce.
Children of divorced parents are more likely to need psychological treatment than their peers raised in homes with intact marriages. They are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit challenges and behavior issues.
Many young teenagers respond to divorce by taking on care-taking roles that would not normally be expected of a child of that age or maturity, especially if there are younger children in the home. These children who are trying to be mini-adults may experience increased anger and resentment at the parents for splitting up and not fulfilling the responsibilities the child may perceive the parent to have neglected.
Ways You Can Help Your Children Through Effects of Divorce
No parent wants their children to suffer while a marriage comes to an end. There are steps that can be taken to help a child cope and navigate the emotionally complex experience of divorce.
Reassure Your Child That You Love Him or Her
If you have recently divorced and you see your child taking on more responsibility than you feel is healthy, talk about this with your child. Make sure she knows you love him or her regardless of how much your child helps you. Thank your child for her efforts, but let your child know you recognize the fact that you are the adult, and your child does not deserve to have to act like an adult yet.
Get Help If You Need It
Whether it's taking your child to a therapist or getting help with the housekeeping, you will want to prioritize the meeting of your emotional needs and the needs of your child. While you may end up investing more money than you'd ideally like to, you and your child will reap the benefits.
Keep Schedules as Stable As Possible
The transitions between homes-if shared custody entails visitation schedules-can be very difficult for your children. Try to keep schedules predictable and unchanged, if possible. Don't over-schedule yourself or your kids; be sensitive to your children's needs and make sure you aren't running yourself or your children ragged.
Get Your Child a Pet
Pets give children unconditional love at a time when they fear love is conditional. Stroking a hamster or a cat can help a child feel relaxed, comforted, and loved even on those days when you are not emotionally capable of giving the love and attention your child may need.
Dealing with children and divorce can be a tricky situation. No kid wants to see his parents break up. Even adult children can have a hard time coming to grips with the fact that their parents have gotten divorced. To help your adult children through this difficult time, it helps to be as honest and as sensitive as possible
Joint child custody can offer a sense of stability for your child, but it requires careful thought and consideration.
Children of divorce experience the emotional process very differently, depending on their ages at the time. Learn how children typically weather the process.