Effects of Divorce on Children
Separating isn’t easy. Divorce has been a common theme in numerous movies and TV drama series –even a host of songs have been written about it. It’s especially a sensitive situation when children are involved.
Divorce is a pivotal event, and can be a difficult time, for a family. Not only are the parents changing their approach on how to relate to each other, but are also learning new ways to parent the kids. Divorce does affect children –even for homes where divorce needs to happen– but the effects of divorce can vary. Some children react with understanding, while others struggle with (and rebel against) the transition. In their mind, it means loss: loss of the “us” they’ve grown accustomed to, loss of a parent who’s moving out, loss of the home that is now transforming right before their eyes. Unsurprisingly, divorce can cause an array of emotional responses in children, from sadness and anger to frustration and anxiety.
The impact of divorce is not just emotional. It can affect kids psychologically, physically, and academically. Parents who understand these consequences and take steps to proactively help their children make coping easier and will find fewer adverse consequences from divorce. Let’s have a closer look at the aspects where children are affected by separation.
Poor Academic Performance
The stress that children go through in trying to understand the changing dynamics of the family leaves them confused and distracted. This interruption in their daily focus can be seen in their academic performance.
Research has consistently shown that children of divorcing parents may earn lower grades than their peers. A 2019 study found that educational effects are higher in families where the divorce wasn’t expected. For instance, in homes with high conflict or where divorce is already anticipated, the impact on children’s academics was less evident.*
Another reason why academics may be impacted is that children miss classroom contact for court dates and may switch schools once the divorce is final. They may also receive less parental direction and attention with regards to schooling because they’re either bouncing between two homes or living with one parent who’s inundated with chores/tasks. This consequence in academics may also be due in part to the fact that many children of divorce lose economic security because of their parents’ custodial arrangements.
Physical Health Problems
The stressful process of divorce can take its toll on children. Those subjected to parents’ separation have higher susceptibility to sickness –compared to children living in intact families. This can be attributed to a number of factors including difficulty going to sleep. Signs of depression can also emerge –heightening health deterioration and their feeling of loss of wellbeing.*
As a matter of fact, study shows that adolescents from divorced homes are more likely to experience accidents, illness, and injury than children whose parents remained together. A 2011 research showed that teens living with both biological parents tend to be healthier than teens from homes without both their biological parents.*
Difficulty in Socialising
Research found that divorce can affect children’s social skills. They lose interest in social activities, have a harder time connecting to others, and tend to prefer less social contacts. They often feel insecure and wonder if their family is the only one that’s gotten divorced. **
Divorce is an emotionally-charged experience bringing about a range of contradicting feelings –that when not dealt with in a healthy, supportive way can create issues in children’s lives. As a case in point, a 2017 research found that children in blended, one-parent, or step families are more likely to have a mental disorder (or need psychological help) than children in intact, nuclear families.*
Studies also support the finding that children of divorce carry with them the emotional strain and psychological effects well into adulthood. A University of Toronto research showed that adult men who came from divorced homes were more than three times likely to contemplate suicide than men whose parents remained married.
Introduction of Risky Behaviours
As children are subjected to the divorce process, unresolved conflict may lead to future (and unexpected) risks. Studies found that children who’ve gone through a divorce in the previous 20 years are more susceptible to participating in aggression and crimes. Rebelling through destructive behaviors harm their health, with more kids reporting they’ve acquired smoking habits or drug use. Teen girls, who live in a household where the father isn’t present, tend to engage in sex at an earlier age.**
While we consider the effects of divorce on children, it’s also important to point out that, on one hand, kids can fair better after a divorce –especially when it removes them from a high-conflict home or a situation that involves abuse and violence.
Regardless of the reason for separation, it’s crucial that parents remain reassuring. Children cope better when they know that Mom & Dad are still going to be their Mom & Dad. They need to have the assurance that they WILL have parents who plan to be involved in their lives even though the living situation is changed.
Considering these serious consequences, you may need to find a counsellor for your child to help ease the effects of divorce. Jarvis Hypnotherapy welcomes children from divorced homes –providing them the help they need in this difficult transition.
WE CAN HELP
We can see that divorce is a pivotal experience for children that affect the trajectory of their life. To them it can mean a loss of a united family, loss of stability, and the end of their parents’ love story. Separation brings with it huge changes that demands children to adjust hugely.
Parents should look out for signs of anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. If you’re considering counselling and professional help, contact Jarvis Hypnotherapy to help your child or teen who is struggling.