How Are Children Affected by Divorce

How are children affected by divorce? Is divorce ever positive for children? Is there any way to limit the trauma of divorce?

With divorce law loosening and no-fault divorce becoming all the more accessible, more and more marriages are ending in divorce. This means that there are scores of children of divorce navigating the choppy emotional waters of divorce recovery. It's important that parents of divorced children understand how divorce affects children and what you can do to make the experience easier for your child.

Does Divorce Hurt Children?
In most cases, yes. Children usually mourn the loss of the family unit and worry about the future of relationships with each parent. They may fear the loss of love of one or both parents. They often suffer from guilt as they worry that they caused the break up. They may worry about stability. Many children resent the inevitable loss in standard of living as resources are divided up. They worry about being disloyal to one parent or favoring one parent over the other. Many children, especially older teenagers, lose faith that long-lasting love relationships are possible. Oftentimes, children feel deceived and disillusioned if they did not see the divorce coming. The pain they feel as they mourn the closeness of having both mom and dad together all the time is similar to how you may feel about the loss of a lover as you mourn over a lost future together. It is important that you recognize these hurts as real and work with your partner to alleviate as many emotional injuries as possible.

Is Divorce Ever Positive For Children? 
Yes. In cases where the marriage relationship is high conflict and the children are exposed to violence, parental discord or a parent abusing substances, divorce can be positive because it can bring peace to a discordant situation. Oftentimes children in high-conflict marriages are already showing the emotional and behavior signs of distress typically associated with divorce. The change to a more peaceful situation is beneficial in these situations. However, it is estimated that only one-fifth of divorces are in high conflict marriages.

How Can You Lessen the Pain?
You can ease the pain by keeping your focus on the children instead of on yourself during this stressful time. Make time your children and ask them how they feel. Let them talk honestly. Speak positively about your ex and encourage time with both parents. Work together with your ex to be together, if possible, at school events and joint activities. Facilitate visitation and encourage your child to enjoy time with each of you. If both parents are loving and attentive, the children will fare much better than if you both get wrapped up in the hate-fest that often accompanies divorce proceedings. Keep in mind that an amicable divorce is always best for the children involved.

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