Family Life: Understanding The Effects Of Divorce On Children

Marriage is a tricky thing. It can start out so well, but over time as you learn more about each other, become even closer, and conflict arises, it sometimes ends in a falling out, and things don’t work the way you thought they would. In times like these, when the pain and conflict become unbearable and toxic for both partners, divorce becomes the responsible and healthy choice in moving forward.

However, while we are strong advocates of making responsible and healthy choices, we also need to be aware of the consequences of our actions, most especially when kids are part of the equation. As their parents, we need to be fully aware of the effects of divorce on children and do our part in helping them transition and understand the family situation.

Children Are Young And Don’t Have Experience.

Unlike you, children are still growing and learning from their experiences and have a long way to go before they’re ready to bear heavy responsibilities and face life’s challenges. As a result, having to understand and live with the fact that their parents are no longer together can be very difficult to process, and when left unattended, it can lead to devastating consequences. So, to better understand and grasp the situation, let’s go through some of the most common adverse effects.

#1 Emotional Weight

Divorce carries plenty of emotional weight and baggage. Children don’t typically have the knowledge or experience in unpacking emotional burden at this level, which leaves the majority of kids misunderstanding what actually happened. None of them have the tools to wrap their heads around the extent of the situation, and they’re usually left in the middle, feeling weak and unsure. Sure, there are cases of kids who become more emotionally mature after a divorce, but this often comes at the cost of their childhood freedom.

  • Feels Guilty: A common issue regarding the emotional weight of a divorce is how children tend to feel guilty about what happened, and because they are unable to pinpoint the reason behind everything, they think they caused it. As a result, this negatively impacts their emotional growth and can seep into their self-esteem, leading them to wallow in self-doubt.
  • Trouble Expressing Feelings: The emotional weight of a divorce can also increase the chance of a child having trouble expressing their feelings. Whether to appear strong or maybe they’re unsure how to respond, most kids in separated families resolve to stuffing their thoughts and not talking about it. And, when left to fester, it can stunt their emotional growth and make it a challenge for them in the future to express their emotions fully.

#2 Stress and Pressure

Divorce also causes unnecessary stress and pressure on the child, and because there are too many things revolving in their head all at once, they are unable to focus and can’t think straight. Yes, the parents also have to go through much stress and pressure, but children lack the knowledge in coping and alleviating such problems, putting them at more risk for stunting their personal growth and development.

  • Struggle in Academics: Children are like sponges, and at their early stage of development, will soak as much knowledge and information possible. However, when children also have to make the effort of understanding the intricacies of divorce and fail to wrap their heads around it, there’ll be no more room left for academics. As a result, children from separated families struggle in their studies and show poor performance, and unless the root of the problem is addressed, it will continue to happen.
  • Increased Risk to Mental Health Problems: Too much stress and pressure can lead to anxiety and episodes of depression, which means children who are at the mercy of divorce’s negative effects are at an increased risk of mental health problems. Conflict and instability in the family situation take a toll on a child’s mental health and can even cause irreversible trauma at their young age.

#3 Always Confused

While most children go through a stage of deviance and rebellious actions, children who come from separated families and are affected by divorce tend to reflect these episodes much earlier and much longer. This attitude stems from a place of confusion, and because they are unable to express what they truly mean, they look for other things that can appease their longing.

  • Looks for an Outlet: As we’ve mentioned, children will look for an outlet to express themselves, and there is an increased likelihood of these outlets being a vice rather than something productive. Negative emotions left unsaid lead to negative actions that reflect their thoughts, so as much as possible, you’ll want to talk it out.
  • Stunts Personal Growth: Being confused and unsure at the young age of gaining experience and learning as much as you can leads to the stunting of their personal growth. They grow dependent on others, have difficulty in making their own decisions, and lag behind on the development of life skills.

Strive for Healthy Relationships

So, to alleviate these problems and reduce the impact of said adverse effects, you’ll want to strive for healthy relationships. Your children deserve to grow up knowing the love and care of both mother and father, so don’t let conflict get in the way of your child’s growth and development. It can be tough at first, most especially if the conflict between you is heartbreaking, but we must never forget our duties as parents.

1. Good Co-Parenting

A happy and healthy divorce always begins with good co-parenting. You must communicate with each other for the benefit of your children and be flexible even if it pains you. Sure, it will take some time getting used to, and we don’t expect the road to have zero bumps, but this is in the best interest of your kids. So, don’t cut-off your ex completely because both of you share the responsibility for your children. You want to set schedules and work together to provide what the kids deserve for a happy future.

2. Make Them Feel Safe

Second, you want to make them feel safe, and there are two ways to go about it, (1) knowing when to open up and talk things through and (2) understanding when they need to process things on their own. For the most part, you’ll be utilizing method one because it’s very rare to see a child who immediately understands the situation. They’ll need more than a bit of help to put the pieces together. You need to be their guide and be by their side when they’re unable to express their emotions. Method two is when they start to understand, and holding their hand too long becomes more of a hassle than a benefit.

3. Don’t Put Weight on Their Shoulders.

Lastly, leave all the decision-making between you and your ex-partner. Children shouldn’t have to bear that type of weight on their shoulders at such a young age because it will only make things worse for their mental health. Both parents have to be the bigger person and assume their responsibilities as adults to resolve things peacefully.

It’s Tough, But It’s Not Impossible To Get Through

Overall, while divorce can be a tricky thing to work through and has many adverse effects on both the parents and children, it’s not impossible. All it takes is a bit of effort, time, and teamwork from both parties, and there doesn’t need to be a reason why it shouldn’t work otherwise. So, for all the parents going through this situation, take these tips with you and never forget to consider how your children feel.

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