Children can be severely traumatized by divorce, especially if the divorce is a nasty one, and/or if there is a prolonged or an intense custody battle. Some of the effects of a divorce will pass in time; others may last for weeks, years, or even the rest of a child’s life.
Children who go through a divorce often face issues with self esteem. They may believe that they themselves caused the divorce, or that they did something wrong that made mommy and/or daddy want to not be with them. These self-esteem issues, if not addressed, can be long-lasting.
In a divorce, children are also affected in the area of security. Fears that both parents will abandon the child are common, as are fears about what will happen to them next. In addition, the absence of one of their parents can make the child feel extremely lonely. Here again, these feelings of loneliness and abandonment can last a long time if not addressed.
Long-term studies suggest that a person’s overall social adjustment will relate directly to how her quality of life and her relationship with both of her parents turn out after a divorce. If both parents continue to be involved and have healthy relationships with the child, he is more likely to be well-adjusted.
Other studies suggest that there is a “sleeper effect” of divorce. This is the idea that a child that goes through a divorce will have a resurgence of fear, anger, guilt, and anxiety that doesn’t kick in until well into adulthood. These feelings tend to arise when a young adult is attempting to make important life decisions, such as marriage.
Some children are affected more by divorce than others. However, all children will be affected by a divorce. The things that parents do and dont do will greatly impact exactly how much a child is affected by the divorce. In addition, the childs gender, age, psychological health, and maturity will also all affect how a divorce impacts a child.
Divorce will not be easy for a parent; but a parent is a grown adult who has (hopefully) mastered coping skills. Children, on the other hand, are not necessarily as prepared as an adult in this regard. If you are going through a divorce and have children, you need to make the way that the divorce affects them your top priority.