The Effects of Divorce on Children
We have all seen the drama of friends and family going through a divorce, and something that is often missed is the effects of divorce on children. Many children enter stepfamilies with a feeling of loss and compounded with their lives rapidly changing beyond their control. They often experience the fallout from a tumultuous marriage and subsequently messy divorce. Having the family structure change so dramatically, we can forgive them for wondering if they are loved and had a part in all that’s happened.
Did you know that in the U.S.…
-approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce?
-an estimated 40% of adults aged 18-40 come from broken homes?
-43% of kids that are growing up at present in U.S. are being raised without input from their biological fathers?
-40% of children with divorced parents are living with mothers?
-Almost 40% of the total of children who are not living with their biological father didn’t met him during the last year?
Every child deserves a happy, healthy and wonderful relationship with everyone they are related to! Period!
Put yourself in your child’s situation and try to get the clear picture of the effects of divorce on children. Think, if your parents behaved in a hateful manner, yelling, or emotionally manipulative in front of you. How would you feel? How would this have changed you as a person? No child wants to make either one of their parents upset, to see their parents fight, or hear negative vents about how one parent feels towards the other.
The most important thing is to always put your child first. It’s not about you or your soon to be “ex-spouse” or “ex-Boyfriend/Girlfriend. “Your child’s life is greatly affected by what you choose to do from the moment you split or begin to “fight for” custody. Talking about and explaining these situations in a positive way will help your child, or children, to understand what is happening and that it’s not their fault.
Parental interaction and the effects of divorce on children
Inside you may really want your child to hate the other parent for reason you might justify, but what you are really doing is encouraging emotional conflict and distress, and future behavioural problems. What you probably don’t realize is that you are in fact poisoning your own relationship between you and your child.
Dishonesty and a lack of integrity will always be discovered, it’s only a matter of time. This will in turn leave a cloud of distrust and resentment over your relationship with your children. It can also make it harder for your offspring to let themselves be open around other people out of suspicion.
Years down the road you will look back at everything you have either tried to do or have been successful at through your parenting and wonder if you really did always make the right choice. To counter that moment when it comes, remember to make the most of everyday, show love to your child each day, look out for them, their health, well-being, spirituality, socially. Make sure they have a sound, safe, loving environment without hostility.
With a positive attitude proactive approach towards parenting your child will grow up and remember the good experiences they have received in their lifetime and carry these on for their own children or other relationships they will have in the future. Teaching them that they have a voice of their own and they can think for themselves will help them forge their own path.
You can be assured that if you are a positive, caring parent your child will want to be with you regardless of the circumstances. Showing an aggressive side, even it it’s directed solely at your ex partner, will instill fear into your child, fear of becoming the target of that aggression.
In regards to the effects divorce has on children, a stormy break-up dramatically lessens the likelihood children will bounce back to their normal, happy and playful selves. When the children are dragged into the turbulence of divorce and the drastic changes that follow, the newly single parent’s roles, and later into the dating and remarriage of their parents. They have no control over any of these events that are having a major effect upon their lives and they feel angry and helpless.
Children are generally more flexible than most adults to change, but their adjustment depends on how well they are helped through these rough times. If the parents are to have a good relationship with their child, they must understand the child’s feelings and what motivates his or her behavior. Even if things get heated in a divorce it is paramount that your children’s feelings are not dismissed but encouraged to be shared and be out in the open.
Because children have no choice in the matter of a separation or divorce, nor any choice in the events that follow, It can give a child a sense of powerlessness and undermine their self-esteem and self worth . This powerlessness and associated feelings lowers their self-confidence and, like adults, need to feel they have control of their lives and that their needs and wants matter.
A good way to help children feel as though they do have some personal choice, is to give them the responsibility of making choices in different areas of your lives during these tough times. Just by being there and listening to them will help your children feel they do have some control, which helps to lower their feeling of helplessness.
Children also need to be included in discussions about family activities, new rules, changes in lifestyles, moves, pets, etc. Even though adults usually have the final say, children’s wishes should be heard and taken into consideration. Not just for their wants but also for their emotional needs.
It is common for children to assume that they, in some way, were responsible for the leaving of one of the parents. They might for example believe their bad behavior was the reason, or that they were so unlovable that their own parent wouldn’t stay. These feelings of worthlessness can cause your children to behave in different ways. They may misbehave because its the only way they feel that they get proper attention, or withdraw from friends and family, potentially growing a fear of rejection.
How to lessen the effects of divorce on children
To help ease a child’s potentially growing negative feelings, you should sit down with the children, discuss the changes to come, and provide them with straightforward information about what is happening. Withhold any judgments of the other parent. They don’t need the details as they in time will make up their own minds, but just be clear and explain the situation. Include assurance that they are not to blame for the situation and they will always be loved by both parents.
Guilt can also manifest within your children’s thinking, they may start to feel disloyal to one parent by spending time with the other. Showing jealousy or anger towards the time your child spends with your ‘ex’ can foster this guilt. If your child enjoys spending time with the other parent, share your child’s happiness, because the reality is that they still have both their parents.
Parents & new stepparents alike need to assure children of their love. Give extra hugs, ‘I love you’s, and spend time ‘playing ‘with them. It will take time for children to find their place in the new family dynamic, feel secure, and realize there is enough love to go around. The effects of divorce on children can be extreme so it’s vital that care is taken to keep the division of divorce out of your childrens emotions.