Children and Divorce

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Divorce brings with it significant changes in the lives of children regardless of their age. They are forced to live with entirely new and challenging circumstances, and there is a need for fast adaptation to curb the aftermath effects. For children, watching parents break their marriage and leave each other can be a devastating, confusing, and stressful event. Therefore we need to consider the psychological, social and physical effects resulting from a divorce so that children can be helped to adjust to the situation in the best possible way.

Psychological Impact of Divorce on Children

When parents divorce, children are unable to have daily contact with one of them, usually according to statistics, the father. Researchers have found that this loss of contact has played a significant role in the reduction of closeness between fathers and their children (Christa, 271). In my own experience I have found that single-parented children have strained relationships with their mothers as well. This strained relationship is due to the fact that after the divorce, single mothers tend to be less supportive and shoe less of their affection to the children (Paul & Sobolewski, 917). As a result, the discipline in the children is greatly affected resulting in the child’s behavior becoming rebellious or unpredictable.

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In the period immediately after a divorce, research has found that children become filled with tenseness and anxiety (Paul & Sobolewski, 917). This phenomenon is likely to be observed in young children that are more dependent on both parents. This anxiety can have an affect on their academic performance at school considering anxiety causes their concentration at class to decrease. Another aspect would be that the child may lose fondness for things they once seemed to enjoy and love.

It has been discovered by research that for a good percentage of children, the most challenging part comes in the accompanying events after the divorce and separation. After the parents part ways, kids are likely to change schools, move homes, and have to deal with parents who are under stress and still adjusting to their new status. The children will most likely feel lonely if they have to leave their friends and their usual environment they are accustomed to, for a new area (Christa, 273).

Many studies have shown that children develop a perception that they are the cause of their parents’ divorce (Christa, 272). They, therefore, begin behaving in ways to catalyze the mending of the relationship. This action involves considerable pressure on the children, and their under-developed mind may struggle to cope with it which may result in nightmares and negative thinking.

Unstable moods and irritability have been observed to be more prominent for young children in their interaction with people. Some have been observed to prefer withdrawal mode where they shut themselves from the world and stay away quiet and alone. This withdrawal is in their bid to try and acclimatize themselves with the situation and how they are going to cope with having to stay with a single parent (Paul & Sobolewski, 917).

Also, the aftermath of divorce leaves children with disillusion, distress, and hopelessness (Harknett, 361). These factors emanate from lack of emotional support that is comprehensive both from their parents and society. It has been observed that the situation may become even more pronounced if the children are unable to have access to the other parent and have to make do with being brought up by a single parent. The heartbreak that comes with the divorce of parents may contribute to mental health issues for children. Many researchers have for instance fingered divorce as a contributing factor to bipolar disorders in children (Christa, 273).

Social effects of Divorce

Children from divorced parents tend to form a habit of violence and become antisocial. One may observe that such children easily lose their temper and may result in violent acts such as assault to resolve differences and conflicts with others (Patterson et al., 29). This behavior, if not curbed early, may lead to a child developing a criminal mindset more so when they encounter adolescence. Studies conducted have shown that most of the children from divorced backgrounds have different degrees of disobedience and aggression. Eventually, the child may become a social misfit in an extremity of such conditions. Research has associated divorce to many of the hardcore criminals that are observed in the society; where many of them lack proper parental care and emotional support by both parents (Christa, 276).

Another long-term effect of divorce is relationship trouble. When children see marriages failing in their early age, they develop a lack of trust in relationships and are more doubtful of love and marriage (Paul & Sobolewski, 917). They are more likely to have mistrust issues like jealousy and find it difficult in amicably resolving relationship conflicts. It is such children who, as adults, start relationships with a negative mindset expecting things to go wrong at any moment. They are never fully in a relationship.

Disgruntled children from divorced parents find solace in substance abuse where they vent their anxiety and frustration. Researchers have found that most of the teens with problems in substance abuse have divorced parents. However, it must be noted that the fact that a parent is divorced on its own does not result in children becoming substance abusers. Other contributing factors must also be available for this to happen. But, divorce nonetheless offers an enabling environment (Christa, 271).

Negative effects of divorce include poor education and stunted social-economic growth. Since research has associated divorce to the drastic deterioration of school and college performance in children, the career prospect of an individual may consequently take a hit. As such, the stunted educational progress may become a hindrance for individuals to find and follow their social-economic dreams, which may leave them economically vulnerable (Patterson et al., 29).

Physical Impacts of divorce

Children’s physical health is adversely affected when parents divorce (Harknett, 361). Irrespective whether one remarries or not, divorce has been found to contribute to physical health problems such as increased rates of injury and asthma risks. Some types of cancer have also been seen to be more prominent in children who experience divorce. Hemminki and Chen (524) in their research concluded that the contribution of divorce occurs in cancers associated with tobacco, sex, and alcohol. Men from divorced parents have also been observed to have a higher risk of being hospitalized and a significant mortality rate.

Prevention of adverse effects of divorce on children

Both parents should regularly associate with their children

Whoever wins the child’s custody should not restrict the other partner to meet their child. In as much divorce is concerned the ex-spouse a still the child’s biological parent; therefore, children should have access to all the parents. By so doing the child will have a normal childhood life even though the parents live separately (Michael & Mount, 74).

Avoid long custody disputes.

Divorce will not have much impact on children if the parents settle the custody disputes in the law court in a short time. If the child is always involved in the long custody disputes, then the child finds the experience to be stressful (Michael & Mount, 74).

Upkeep the healthy routine.

Parents should always maintain the lifestyle of the child even after divorce because to the child it will see it as a normal life thus no much impact on the child.

Always be involved in the child’s activities.

Parents should attend all the events that involve the child, events like birthdays, parent/teacher meetings, sports day and the like (Patterson et al., 29). This involvement will help the child understand that both parents are supporting his/her achievement by investing their time and resources.

In line with the above findings, it is therefore important that parents develop a keen interest in advancing the quality of the children’s lives even after the divorce. Since it is better to divorce than live in a marriage with constant abuse, the children should be made aware of what is happening with both parents taking responsibility for actions taken. They should ensure very little damage as possible is done to the children’s lives as a result of their divorce.

Works cited

  1. Cooper Sumner, Christa. “Adult children of divorce: Awareness and intervention.” Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 54.4 (2013): 271-278.
  2. Kari Hemminki and Bowang Chen, “Lifestyle and Cancer: Effect of Parental Divorce,” European Journal of Cancer Prevention 15, (2006): 524.
  3. Kristen Harknett, “Why Are Children with Married Parents Healthier? The Case of Pediatric Asthma,” Population Research and Policy Review 28, (2009): 361.
  4. Little, Michael, and Kevin Mount. Prevention and early intervention with children in need. Routledge, 2018. 74.
  5. Patterson, Gerald R., Barbara D. DeBaryshe, and Elizabeth Ramsey. “A developmental perspective on antisocial behavior.” Developmental and Life-course Criminological Theories. Routledge, 2017. 29-35.
  6. Paul R. Amato and Juliana M. Sobolewski, “The Effects of Divorce and Marital Discord on Adult Children’s Psychological Well-being,” American Sociological Review 66, (2001): 917.
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Children and Divorce. (2019, Jul 03). Retrieved from