“Divorce” is a word that no child wants to hear. And yet, each year thousands of children around the world hear their parents speaking this word.
In some cases, the parents come right out and tell the kids they are considering a divorce.
But, just as often, the children hear the word spoken in hushed whispers around the house. They may overhear parents’ phone calls to friends, catch a glimpse of an accidentally-left-open e-mail, or hear their parents hurling the word around like a weapon during a fight.
The word divorce strikes fear and dread into the hearts of most children. Unless one of the parents is abusive or otherwise represents an intolerable presence in the household, the idea of divorce will usually be very upsetting to the children of the married couple.
If you are wondering, “How are children affected by divorce?,” here are 3 ways it can affect them:
1. Children will always carry a memory of the divorce with them: Regardless of whether your divorce goes relatively smoothly or whether it becomes a knock-down, drag-out fight, it will become a large feature of your children’s personal histories for the rest of their lives.
2. Children of divorce carry different models in their heads for how marriage works: We all carry around mental models of how life should be. When divorce happens to the family of a child, that model changes. No longer does a child feel that marriage is an unbreakable, secure thing. That can affect the children’s own, future relationships.
3. Intense feelings of anger and resentment can come to the surface: Most children will feel angry or resentful towards their parents or themselves during and after a divorce.
Some marriages seem just destined to break up. And if there is abuse, drug or alcohol addiction, or chronic infidelity in your marriage, it may very well be the case that – sad as it seems – you will all be better off if you get a divorce.
Still, the situation for most married couples is not that bad. For most couples, putting in the effort, resources and energy into saving the marriage now can pay off in the couple staying together.
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