As traumatic as divorce is for the couple experiencing it, their children will also experience varying degrees of upset and trauma which depends on the structure of the family before the divorce, and the age of the child. Younger children will react in different ways than their older siblings who have a greater understanding of how life works.
Divorce changes the family structure, which is disruptive for children. The foundation upon which their life and reality were based has broken apart and now they face unknown challenges, new routines and an adjusted standard of living.
An article in Psychology Today distinguishes between the general ways in which children up to age 8 or 9, and adolescents between the ages of 9 and 13 years-old, tend to deal with the massive life changes that come when parents divorce. The article reports, “Basically, divorce tends to intensify the child’s dependence and it tends to accelerate the adolescent’s independence; it often elicits a more regressive response in the child and a more aggressive response in the adolescent.” Divorce shakes the trust that younger children have in their parents and it can elicit anxious responses while adolescents may tend to react more aggressively to divorce by acting out, being rebellious and disregarding family discipline.
Very Well Family takes a deep dive into the psychological effects of divorce on children, but came up with more and they share the reassuring news: “while divorce is stressful for all children, some kids rebound faster than others.” The article claims that the first year after a divorce will be the hardest to get through. Children of divorce may experience distress, anger, anxiety and disbelief, but many of those kids bounce back as they adjust to their new normal way of life.
The following are some of the many ways Very Well Family reports that divorce affects children:
- Divorce affects a child’s relationship with the custodial parent
- Financial hardships are common after divorce
- Other stresses after divorce include moving houses, starting at new schools, living in a different neighborhood and in some cases learning to adjust to a new standard of living
- Navigating step-parent and step-sibling relationships
- Behavior problems and risky behavior
- For some children, the psychological effects of divorce including mental health problems, substance abuse and psychiatric hospitalizations can extend into adulthood
Does it make sense to stay married for the kids?
Despite all the possible difficulties that divorce can bring to the life of a child, living with a divorced, single parent who is getting on with their life after leaving a troubled relationship may be better than if they parents remained married and miserable in a household full of discord, acrimony and chaos.
Parents who are planning divorce or at least contemplating it can schedule a consultation to meet with a skilled Bethesda divorce lawyer from McCabe & Russell to discuss strategies for doing whatever you can to shield your child from the negative effects of divorce.
If you are parent who plans to divorce and you anticipate facing a custody challenge, the skilled Bethesda child custody attorneys from McCabe Russell, PA are here to represent your interests and protect the interests of the child through deciding custody in divorce. We take the time to listen, and we answer your questions. You may set up a consultation, or discuss our parenting coordination services, by calling 443-917-3347 or filling out our contact form. We also maintain offices in Fulton, Columbia and Rockville.