Divorces are messy and stressful for all parties involved. But, without a doubt, children suffer the most in these matters. While parents are busy dealing with the separation process, parenting rights, and child custody, children are often neglected until the last moment. No one will deny that divorces impact children negatively and creates issues that last for a lifetime. Majority of these issues are related to the mental health of children.
Divorce is not a single event, there are many other events associated with it that changes the lifestyle of children as well as the parents. Family separation, moving out of home, living with a single parent and remarriage of their parents, such sudden changes have drastic effects on everyone’s lifestyle.
Initial Reaction of the Children
Children’s reaction to their parents divorcing varies greatly depending on their age. Young children, often unable to understand the concept of a divorce, are generally confused. Adolescents, on the other hand, blame themselves for the divorce of their parents. They think they must’ve done something bad to cause this. Teenagers, however, react with anger and hostility towards both parents. These initial reactions contribute greatly to mental and behavioral issues children face throughout their lives.
Common Problems Observed in Children with Divorced Parents
Although, kids react and cope differently with divorce according to their age and personalities, there are a few problems found common in all children with divorced parents.
- Psychological Problems – children with divorced parents are more likely to suffer psychological problems in their lives. These problems include depression, stress, anxiety, trust issues, self-harm as well as suicidal thoughts.
- Behavioral Issues – children, especially teenagers, are more likely to exhibit reckless, risky and impulsive behaviors. They get into fights a lot and may join gangs to take out their anger. They are also involved in delinquent activities that may lead to more serious crimes.
- Unable to Maintain Relationships – children from divorced families have more difficulty in making friends and maintaining relationships in adulthood. They often find themselves in conflicts with their peers. Moreover, adults with divorced parents have more chances of getting divorced themselves, if they marry.
- Poor Academic Performance – parental divorce also affects a child’s academic performance. They don’t pay attention in class and achieve low score, further damaging their self-esteem. They are also more likely to drop out of school at an early age. If they manage to get a job, they’re likely to perform poorly at it too.
- Substance Abuse and Addiction – when kids don’t find an outlet for their emotions, there is a high chance that they will resort to drugs and alcohol. With parents arguing constantly at home, most teenagers will use drugs to forget about their problems. This can lead to lifelong addiction as well.
What can Parents do to Help their Kids Cope with Divorce
Parents play an important role in children’s lives and at the time of divorce, this is even more significant. There are number of ways in which parents can help their children cope with divorce.
- Don’t Invalidate their Feelings – Kids have the right to feel sad and angry at their parent’s decision. Do not invalidate their emotions and let them process it at their own pace. Validating their feelings will reassure them of their parent’s love and support.
- Reassure them Constantly – Since young children, especially adolescents, tend to blame themselves for the divorce, it is important for the parents to reassure them constantly. Tell them gently that it is not their fault and you still love them just as much.
- Keep them Out of the Divorce Procedure – Most parents fight in front of their kids and often put them on a spot when it comes to child custody. Do not ask the kids to choose between one or the other parent. It’ll only confuse them and make them feel guilty. Hire attorneys that excels in matters related to alimony, child support and child custody in Colorado, so that the divorce procedure is as smooth and quick as possible.
- Establish Disciple and Rules – As divorce brings inconsistency in their lives, children are likely to go astray. It is essential for their growth and development that you establish certain rules and discipline in the house. Monitor their activities without becoming too overbearing, which can make them rebel even more.
- Maintain Positive Relationship with your Partner – Allow your children to spend time with both of their parents. Maintaining a positive relationship, at least in the presence of children, has a positive effect on the kids. It also helps them cope with negative emotions and gives them a sense of belonging and security.