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Divorce and Children

Surviving the Crisis

We’ve recently talked about divorce as one of the major (often painful) pivotal family events and how it can change the trajectory of children’s lives. Although divorce is more common and less stigmatized now than in the 70s, still it’s a difficult transition for children. As you may know, they struggle most during the first year or two of divorce. They’re at a higher risk for experiencing disbelief, anger, distress, anxiety, and for some –depression.

But divorce isn’t all gloom and doom –especially for kids who need to be removed from a high-conflict home that involves abuse and/or violence. After a while, many children do bounce back and function well again. But for some, they never really seem to cope or go back to “normal.”

In her short and impactful talk, Tamara Afifi (Professor & Interpersonal Health Communication Scholar at UC Sta. Barbara) discusses the impact of divorce on children, especially on their physiology.

Divorce does have a short-term impact: most children of divorce suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, less quality contact with their parents and peers, and their standard of living decreases. Oftentimes, these short-term effects actually linger into adulthood (when not properly resolved) and bring about long-term consequences.

Coming from divorced homes, some adults continue to have psychological difficulties, tend to have less satisfying relationship with their parents later in life, have more difficulty in their romantic relationships, and are more likely to get divorced themselves.

Parents have varying reasons to divorce as there are varying factors at play for a child’s ability to bounce back. But, according to Afifi’s research, parents’ conflict is the strongest predictor of how well children function than divorce per se. In fact, children of intact families with parents who have a lot of fights are the ones who have the most health problems. Children of high-conflict families have the most difficulty establishing satisfying relationships later in life –and not necessarily children whose parents divorced. It’s not so much the divorce as it is how parents relate to each other.

Divorce is a highly emotional phase, but it will be less traumatic for children if parents cooperate better, deal with each other more kindly and peacefully, give kids assurance and safety, and empower them.

Jarvis Hypnotherapy has the expertise and right tools to help young children and teens cope with the major changes and crisis that divorce brings. Contact us today so we can help your child in their healing process.

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