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The Effects Of Divorce On Children

Divorce affects children of all ages. Even adult children suffer emotionally when their parents divorce. When a couple decides to divorce, they must think about how their actions will affect their children and work to limit the negative effects of divorce.

In cases, children benefit emotionally from divorce. A physically or emotionally abusive home hinders a child’s development and causes psychological issues for the child. After a divorce, one or both of the parents may decide to remarry. Children benefit from gaining additional family members.

Divorce holds less social stigma in today’s culture than in the past. Chances are high that most of a child’s friends live with a divorced parent. This cultural attitude lessens the social impact a child feels after his or her parents divorce.

In spite of these positive effects, children suffer many negative effects in the wake of divorce. Unable to express their feelings or process the nuances of the adult relationship, children can respond with emotional withdrawal and depression or aggression and defiance. Suicide, eating disorders, bullying or emotional outbursts provide children with an outlet for their emotions. These effects may appear immediately after a divorce or exhibit themselves over time as the child processes the realities of divorce.

Children may take of responsibility for their parents’ separation. They analyze their actions and question what they could have done differently in order to keep their parents together. This irrational thinking causes a child to strive to reunite the parents. It also results in feelings of rejection. A child rationalizes the parent who left must not love her.

They may blame one parent for leaving. This displaced loyalty prevents them from seeing both sides of the story and limits attempts at reconciliation. The children may never experience a close and loving relationship with the parent they hold responsible for breaking up the family.

A child may experience intense jealousy when one parent moves on and starts a new family. The child may resist visiting the parent or participating in the new family’s life. If the custodial parent attempts to remarry, the child may seek to prevent a new relationship from forming. In the back of the child’s mind, his or her parents reconcile and return the family to the normal they once knew.

Children with divorced parents learn that it is okay to quit in life. Instead of seeking to resolve conflict, they walk away from relationships, sports, a career and other activities. Without healthy examples of conflict resolution, children of divorce are more likely to seek divorce if they do choose to marry.

Divorce brings change. A new house, school, friends and living situation creates anxiety and stress. A child’s grades at school, socializing experiences or sleep patterns indicate the child’s reaction to the changes caused by divorce.

If the child’s custodial parent struggles financially, the child may grow up in poverty. Despite receiving child support payments, single parents often make less money than married parents make.

Children of divorce spend their lives carrying emotional baggage from their parents’ divorce. While each child responds differently, no child remains unscathed. Parents should try every possible avenue to repair their relationship. When divorce remains the only option, both parents should care for the child’s emotional and physical needs.

Provide a professional counselor to talk with the children about their feelings, questions and concerns. While every child will experience negative effects from divorce, wise parents strive to make the transition as smooth as possible in order to limit the negative effects of divorce on children. Brad Hart

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