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The Alarming and Oft-overlooked Effects of Divorce on Children

Effects of Divorce on Children
Divorce is almost always stressful for kids, who may experience emotional distress, economic hardships, and a host of other problems. Here is a brief overview of the effects of divorce on kids.
AptParenting Staff
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Dealing with the parents' divorce can be one of the most difficult transitional periods in a child's life. However, the effects of divorce may not be the same for all children. They may vary according to their stage of development, age, and gender. Studies show that despite reconciliation efforts such as family counseling, most children suffer during and after the process. However, some of them recover rapidly and become mature and responsible. On the other side, the negative effects last longer in some kids, and may affect their lives.
Emotional Aspects
When it comes to their parents' divorce, kids may react differently. Some children may become very sad, and show symptoms of depression and insomnia. They become highly anxious and feel rejected or abandoned by one parent and sometimes even both. Most of the kids get adjusted to the fact and come out of the initial shock and mental stress within some time. The emotional distress can be long-lasting for others, who may find it difficult to overcome the trauma. Of course, a lot depends on how well the situation is handled by the parents.
  • Children feel that their parents do not love them anymore, and experience feelings of desertion and desolation.
  • Once they understand that they cannot get their parents back together, they experience feelings of helplessness and insecurity.
  • Even though they may not display signs of anger, many of them do feel angry and some may throw temper tantrums.
  • It has also been noted that some kids feel guilty, as they think that their parents divorced due to something they said or did.
  • They also feel guilty about the loyalty conflicts they experience.
Behavioral Aspects
Children display a wide range of behavioral changes due to the traumatic effects of the parents' divorce. The nature of such behavioral changes may also vary from one child to another. Some kids may indulge in violence and drug abuse. Some may try to commit suicide. Some may display fear, and start bed-wetting, nail biting, etc. Kids who used to talk fluently may start stammering. Kids of divorced parents may become disinterested in studies and fare badly in exams. Many of them become withdrawn and passive. They can be whiny and clingy and require greater attention and understanding of their behavior and moods. Many children feel that they must take care of their emotionally disturbed parent.
There is often a common misconception about the natural resilience of children and their ability to cope with a divorce without it having much impact on their lives. As a matter of fact, most children require strong support systems to help them cope and come to terms with the changes that are brought about, especially during the transitional period.