Why Children are Impacted by Divorce
February 6, 2007 4:35pm CST
It is hard to imagine a more difficult transition for a child than to be a party to his or her parents' divorce. I have watched this closely the last few months as some very good friends of ours have been separated and preparing for divorce. And even through attempts at reconciliation through family counseling, the children have suffered. There have been many empirical studies focusing on the effects of divorce on children. Some of the common findings among all of these studies are detailed in this article. The following are some perspectives on the view of children in a divorcing family. * Fear of Change. The children in a divorcing family know that nothing will ever be the same again, and their previously secure world is in a state of change. Many things will change, not just that mother or dad will not be around. They may lost contact with extended family on one side or the other. Their bedtime, mealtime and after school routines may change. It is a state of upheaval. * Fear of Being Abandoned. When mom and dad are at odds and are either separated or considering separation, children have a realistic fear that if they lose one parent, they may lose the other. The concept of being alone in the world is a very frightening thing for a child. * Losing Attachment. Children who have a natural attachment for their parents also fear losing other secure relationships-friends, pets, siblings, neighbors, and so on. Sometimes children are simply attached to their surroundings, and moving into new surroundings can cause an understandable negative reaction. * Coping with Parental Tension. Even though many divorces follow years of tension between husband and wife, the tension level typically increases during and shortly after a divorce. And parents who try to turn their children against the other spouse create an absolutely impossible situation for that child.# Trying to Bring Parents Back Together. Some children have the mistaken notion that the breakup of the family is somehow their fault. These children typically either “act out” in negative ways, or try to be perfect in an effort to be “so good” that the parents won’t need or want to divorce. # Aggression and Defiance. I know that some parents will think that this is just normal behavior even when there are no marital differences. The key is being aware of uncharacteristic aggression in your children. Are they more angry and uncooperative than usual? # Depression and Withdrawl. Many children in a family under stress will withdraw or show signs of depression.