Divorce can benefit your children. Dr. Shoshana Bennett told Huffington Post, “When children have a happy mom and dad, they’ll do much better.” It’s true that, if the divorce is amicable and things were emotionally volatile in the household, the kids may be better off.
But, if you see divorce as inevitable, you should consider how it will affect your children negatively. At some early point, you must work a strategy into your plans that will manage the children’s reactions.
5 ways divorce affects the kids
- The blame game — It takes some years for children to develop psychologically. For the longest time, they remain self-centered. They judge things in terms of what’s in it for them. The younger they are the more difficult it is to keep an emotional and intellectual distance from what’s going on.
So, it’s natural to feel at fault for their parents’ tension. Unable to understand larger issues, they assume it has something to do with them. This is especially true of only children who can’t see anything else to blame.
- Blown out of proportion — Crises diminish children. Without the apparatus to handle complex problems, they feel smaller. In addition to guilt, they will exaggerate a situation further diminishing themselves.
The more extended the divorce process, the more complicated and stressful, the self-esteem will only grow and continue into adolescence and their own future relationships.
- Resentment option — As a child’s discomfort deepens, it grows and seeks a target. If the children move past blaming themselves, they are likely to turn against one parent or the other.
Regardless of alcoholism, drug addiction, or domestic violence, a child will try to preserve stability. The fear they will lose their home, friends, and family will drive resentment toward the parent they believe started the proceedings.
- Health problems — The emotional stress of divorce will affect children’s physical health. They will lose sleep, eat less, and prove vulnerable to colds and infections. They may develop neurological and gastrointestinal distress. Long-term effects may include depression, self-mutilation, and addictive behaviors.
If you visit KMFamilyLaw.com, you’ll find Kimberley Miller is an attorney who appreciates these stressors. She looks to find acceptable transitions through counseling, mediation, and family divorce resolution.
- Lost time — A research study published in Pediatrics & Child Health points out, “Within two years of a separation, the majority of parents regain their equilibrium, establish polite but distant communication with their ex-partner, and their children, in turn, adapt to the new living arrangements.”
However, the children measure those two years differently than the adults. For the children, the time is marked by confusion, instability, and loss. Divorce presses them in two ways: they are pressed to adapt and adaptation is tough.
If parting ways is imminent, consider alternatives.
Divorce mediation that fails to save a marriage can still make the divorcing easier for all. Because children need economic and emotional stability, they don’t need their parents to be married in the traditional sense. You don’t have to be sexual partners to continue a co-parenting relationship. There must be alternatives to simply putting up with each other “for the sake of the kids.”