Negative Impact of Divorce on Children

Published: 14th February 2008
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Children of all age groups tend to feel very scared and anxious during the divorce process. Divorce can have a long-term psychological impact on the minds of the children.

Negative Feelings Experienced by Children

Most children tend to view divorce as a process wherein they lose one parent. Therefore, there is always a fear that the custodial parent might leave them as well. It is not uncommon for children to feel that they are to be blamed for the divorce. They tend to think that they must have done something wrong or hurtful due to which their parents have taken such a decision. Therefore, in their innocent attempt to improve the situation, they try to be at their best behaviour hoping that doing so will change their parents' minds.

Children are very innocent and they do not understand the complicated nature of adult relationships. Therefore, it is very common for children to try to get their parents together. They may resort to all sorts of techniques and tactics in order to keep their parents together. However innocent this may sound, this actually delays the healing process of the child because he or she does not come to terms with the fact that his or her parents will never be together again.

Feelings of anxiety are also very common amongst children going through a divorce. All of a sudden, their life ceases to be what it was. Children tend to feel anxious about the future living arrangements and this can affect their mental and physical well-being.

While the fear of abandonment engulfs their mind, children also tend to feel helpless about the entire situation. They do not want to see their world come apart but are not able to do anything about it. This can make them feel shattered and bitter. These feelings can give rise to extreme anger, which may force the child to entertain criminal instincts.

How Does Parental Divorce Affect the Child's Personality?

Divorce can have a different type of negative impact on different children. Some children are likely to stay away from any kind of social interaction. They become so immersed in their sad and lost world that they are not able to deal with the real world. Most children also fear peer rejection and experience general feelings of fear during this time of crisis. This is likely to make them very fearful and worried by nature.

There are times when children feel so much anger because of divorce that they resort to committing crimes and taking drugs to overcome this anger. Therefore, such children have higher chances of becoming delinquents.

Children have impressionable minds. A sad event like divorce can be a major setback to their positive outlook towards life. Therefore, they are more likely to become pessimists. This pessimism is bound to take a toll on their personal as well as professional lives.

Many children are not able to concentrate on their studies during the time of divorce. The circumstances surrounding divorce may make it hard for the child to focus on academic goals. Children are bound to lose their self-confidence in such cases and may not want to study at all.

Are DIY Divorces Easier on Children Than Contested Divorces?

Couples opt for a DIY divorce when they plan to divorce on amicable terms. Conversely, couples who opt for a contested divorce have some underlying unresolved asset-related or custody-related issue which they cannot sort out on their own, which is why they opt for a courtroom solution.

Typically, the fewer traumas the child suffers because of divorce, the better is his or her ability to deal with the divorce. A contested divorce gives rise to a lot of arguments and bitter fights which can have a negative impact on the child. A couple is also likely to strain their relations because of these fights, which can adversely affect the post-child custody living arrangements. Therefore, contested divorces are likely to cause more harm than good to a child.

Ways to Protect Children from Parental Divorce

  • Never argue or discuss bitter personal issues in front of your children.

  • Do not involve the children in your fights or arguments.

  • Always be there for your child in this time of crisis. It is important for you to reassure your child that divorce will only signify a change in living arrangement and not in your love for him or her.

  • Keep your child engaged in social or extra-curricular activities so that he or she has less time for engaging in negative thoughts.

  • Try to keep your child in the same neighbourhood even after the divorce so that he or she does not lose his or her close neighbourhood or school friends. In addition, staying in a familiar surrounding after the divorce can reassure your child that not everything in his or her life has changed.

James Walsh is a freelance writer and copy editor. If you would like more information on how to get a quickie Divorce see

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