Children and divorce statistics show that an overwhelming 50% of marriages end up in divorce these days. The odds are even higher if it’s the second or third marriage. Divorce can be a very difficult time for children no matter what age they are in. There are so many changes to deal with, especially since the divorce will shake up their sense of security. When it comes to children and divorce, parents must take an active role in determining whether their children are having a hard time coping with the stress of their parents splitting up. Here are a few of the most common effects of divorce on children and some watrning signs to look out for:
- Trying to “repair” parents’ relationship – No matter how much you try to talk to children, most of them still feel that their parents’ divorce is somehow their fault. Younger children are especially more likely to think this and to try and do something to correct themselves and bring their parents back together. Sometimes children will resort to negative behavior like acting out and rebelling, sometimes they will try to live out what they think is the perfect kind of child in the hopes that if they are perfect, their family will be back together again.
- Depression – Children who are having a hard time coping with their parents’ divorce can sometimes very quietly sink to depression which is a very dangerous thing. They may suddenly stop wanting to go out with friends, lose interest in the things and activities that used to matter a lot to them, stop eating or sleeping regularly, and more. Sometimes, parents are so busy taking care of the divorce that they don’t notice their children getting depressed. When depression is left untreated or unaddressed, it can lead to very dire consequences like making poor choices, developing an eating disorder, hurting one’s self, or even attempting suicide.
- Anger – Children who are not adjusting well to a divorce can also often display anger and aggression, especially towards younger siblings or classmates. Teenagers are especially prone to becoming angry and aggressive as they judge the decision of their parents.
- Anxiety – Children and divorce can be a very sensitive issue. Children whose parents go through divorce may feel an acute anxiety and fear about their own future relationships. Young children may have a hard time understanding about the permanency of a divorce and feel anxious about the stability and security of their life.
Parents must actively seek help for their children during their divorce, especially if the children seem to exhibit changes in their behavior and patterns. It’s important to be aware that during divorce, many children go through diminished parenting because parents often exhibit disorganization, anger (at their spouse and the situation), and a reduced ability to see to their children’s need. Overburdening children can be very overwhelming and may have long-term effects on them. Consulting a counselor or a child mental health professional can help you give significant support to your children during such a difficult and turbulent time.
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