The topic of divorce is as worrying time for children as it is for their parents, but maybe even more so. This is because seeing their parents being separated is quite troubling for the sensitive young mind of a child.
Thus, when parents reach a decision about ending their marriage or relationship, it is necessary for them to realize the impact of their actions on the vulnerable minds of their children. No matter how young or old the child may be, they feel the tension between relationships just the same and continuously try to understand the reason for the strain. Parents should hence, try to explain the cause for their separation or divorce to their children in a calm and comforting manner, to help them deal with the confusing situation in a better way.
The Impact of Divorce on a Child
There has been considerable debate about the impact of parents’ divorce, based on the effects seen in adolescents and toddlers after the event occurs in their life. While there are no set standards, there are still certain expected behaviors which have been observed that affect the minds of children with divorcee couples.
Following are some of these observed effects on young children, who experience a divorce or separation between their parents,
It has been observed that a divorce between parents is a stressful situation for the children. Many of the children don’t wish for their parents to separate and prefer for them to live together. There is mostly only one instance when a child would consider a divorce between elders to be a good choice, and that is when they have experienced the marriage to be full of intense conflict and excessive anger with resentment, that results in a miserable condition for all in the family. This is not a conducive environment for a child, and has been proven to have a damaging impact on their personalities.
Strained Parent Child Relationships
The aftermath of a divorce might also result in a strained relationship between the child and his parents. The child might feel apprehensive and scared about the entire unpredictable situation and there might even be total loss of contact with a parent who was a part of their lives. These conditions lead to rise in anxiety and discomfort.
Any legal conflicts between parents and any economic hardships can pose great problems too, and make it difficult for children to endure the chaotic transition of divorce between parents.
If parents make the divorce experience smooth for their children and duly manage the stress of divorce to reduce any negative impacts, they often witness their children quickly adapting to a new life.
High Risk of Psychological and Behavioral Problems
There is no doubt about it that a separation between parents increases the risk that children will suffer from possible behavioral and psychological problems. Studies show that children troubled by the event are likely to develop different problems related to disobedience, anger, as well as violation of rules. Academic performance can also suffer, while some children have been noted to suffer from sadness for a prolonged time period.
Children can become depressed, and anxious. It is also a possibility that the child might show overly responsible character traits, which means that they would take care of their parents instead of the situation being naturally reversed.
Aside from the negative aspects, there is also a chance of positive changes being observed in a child after the divorce of their parents. When parents do a good job of efficiently managing all the divorce related stress, they raise children who are highly resilient by nature. These children lead lives like all the other children with their families, and develop positive traits for a happy purposeful life.
Painful and Worrying Memories
Even with resilient children, painful memories are one part which reminds them of the difficult time in their lives at the time of the divorce. If the divorce was not chaotic, the child will still have sad memories of watching their parents separate. But if the parents are not able to manage the divorce process smoothly, and the children are exposed to trauma, the painful memories are likely to present sad and disturbing times for them in the future.
Thus, the divorce between parents has a critical impact on the wellbeing of their children.
Many experts share that in many divorce cases, a break down in relationship, the continuation of the marriage might have been a good choice for the children. In most high conflict divorces, the children end up better after the separation, while in cases where there is low conflict between the parents and a resultant divorce, children tend to feel sad and depressed.
There are two ways for parents to deal with the problem; they can either try to work together to make their marriage work, or decide on the best ways to ensure a smooth transition for the children when they separate.
Tips for Parents to Try and Make the Relationship Work
The most important thing that responsible and caring parents need to understand is the effect that their divorce will have on their children. It should be a decision made with careful deliberation and made in the best interests of everyone.
Following are some ways in which both the spouses can try and improve their relationship to avoid a situation which might lead to divorce,
- Both should understand and recognize the importance of making the relationship work
- Make a plan to try and make the relationship work and start straight away
- Make a list of things that are ruining the relationship and discuss them objectively with the other spouse, on how to avoid them all in the future
- Not to play the blame game but to look for suitable solutions instead
- Learn from their mistakes and avoid any hurtful instances or comments in the future
When both parents want to make it work, there is a very high possibility that all the positive purposeful discussions will help clear up any misunderstandings and develop a friendly and successful relationship with each other once more.
Easy Transition for Children during the Divorce
If you have decided to opt for a separation nonetheless; then make sure that you make the transition as smooth for your children as possible.
- Divorce mediation is a better and healthier alternative that a court trial
- Try not to classify your separation as a battle
- Cooperate and communicate with your ex-spouse to make the big change and transition easier and healthier for everyone
- Keep all conflict away from the children
- Ensure open communication with your ex-spouse and encourage honest views from your children about and after the big change
- Make sure that the kids are in close contact with both parents, as a poor relationship with either one can make it difficult for them to deal properly with the family upheaval
Be active, mature and honest when you make any decision and always consider the overall impact on your children at all times.