Divorce is such a sensitive moment in our life. The adults are lost on what to do, especially with the reality sinking in that the person you thought you’d spend a lifetime with is suddenly out of your life. The parents are having a hard time deciding on how to tell their family, friends, and worse, how to tell their children.
The effects of divorce on children are not something parents should overlook. Regardless of age, divorce can shake up children’s routines and affect their psychological and mental health. As a parent, it’s one of your prime responsibility to make the separation a bit easier for the children involved by understanding their feelings, communicating and explaining.
If the legal separation is inevitable, here are some effects of divorce on children that you need to watch out for.
This is expected and valid, especially with school-aged kids and teenagers. Their world did a 360-degree flip and they don’t have control over it. Anger begins with thoughts of loss and being abandoned. Aside from that, anger can also be self-directed, with children blaming themselves for their parent’s separation.
If you see and feel that your social child has become withdrawn, shy, or anxious amidst a divorce, then that is one effect that the separation has made. Unknowing to us adults, children also have a lot of thoughts and feel an array of feelings.
You might see them being uninterested and fearful of social situations because of low self-image. What’s important is to boost your child’s confidence and help them come out of their shell.
Kids in the middle of a divorce are also academically challenged. They might earn low grades and even drop out of school. This can affect children as young as 6 years old but commonly occurs in children ages 13 to 18 years old.
There are several reasons for this, including the feeling of being neglected, depressed, or distracted.
Possible risky behaviors are alcohol and drug abuse, aggressive attitude, and early engagement with sexual activity. Studies show that teenage girls tend to have sex at earlier ages when they live in a household where the father isn’t present.
However, it’s not the same for boys, with divorce attributed to their changed beliefs in marriage and childbearing.
Struggles with relationship
Studies also show that when parents divorce, their kids could also end up being divorced as adults. This is because of the child’s changed attitude when dealing with relationships. They are less eager to enter long-term and committed relationships.
Divorce also teaches children that there are a lot of alternatives to the traditional family model and that is possible to live separately or live together without marriage. However, this is no longer a huge deal in the present culture and has become a normal situation.
How to help kids cope with divorce
Even in the most cooperative separation, approaching the topic of divorce with the kids is never easy. It can be touchy, emotional, and sensitive to discuss. But one thing is for sure, your child appreciates it.
Here are some tips to help them cope with divorce.
Encourage communication. Let your child know that their feelings regarding the separation are valid and that you are always there to listen to them.
Understand the changes. You might notice your child’s sudden shift in behavior and you have to understand. Each child process divorce differently so pay attention to any out-of-the-blue behavior and strategize how to approach your child about it.
Eliminate conflict with the ex. As much as possible, rid of the conflict with your ex-partner and don’t fight in front of the kids. Doing so eliminates the kids’ tendency to take sides.
Reach out for help. Especially if you need it. Going through a divorce is tough, it’s even harder when you need to help your kids cope up too. Reach out to friends and family. If you notice your child starting to display alarming actions, seek the help of a doctor or mental health professional.
Be kind to yourself. Yes, you need to be strong for your children but you are only human too. It’s okay to cry and show your true emotions to your kids. When you do, it’s easier for your children to open up about theirs, as well.