The Psychological Impact Of Divorce On Children

The Psychological Impact Of Divorce On Children

Written By:
Syra Salam

Divorce may be a traumatic experience for a family

Parents are not only discovering new ways to relate to one another, but they are also learning new methods to parent their children. When parents’ divorce, the consequences for their children differ. Some children react to it normally and understandably, while others may find it difficult to adjust.

Although most experts believe that staying together for the children’s sake isn’t a healthy option if you’re constantly bickering. Instead, learning to get along and keeping the family together as much as possible is a better option. If a couple decides to eventually divorce, they must consider the long-term effects on their children.

First Year: the Most Difficult Phase

Research has revealed that a couple of years are the most difficult for children. After the divorce, distress, rage, worry, and disbelief are common amongst children. 

While it’s true that many appear to recover, but others might face the trauma later in life too.

Emotional Effects of Divorce on different ages

Divorce causes emotional anguish for the entire family, but it can be particularly frightening, confused, and upsetting for children. 

Impact of Divorce on Young Children

According to many studies, the younger a child is, the more significant the impact of divorce on the youngster. Children under the age of eight often have a hard time understanding why their parents are divorcing. It’s especially tough for children to adjust to the various changes that come with divorce when they don’t know what’s going on. Changes in living arrangements, having just one parent’s support at a time, and changes in daily routines can be highly upsetting to children.

They may be worried that if their parents can stop loving one other, they might stop loving them as well. The stress of divorce causes children to pee on the bed or older children to revert to thumb-sucking. Young children become increasingly reliant on their parents as they frantically seek reassurance that they are still loved.

Impact of Divorce on Grade Schoolers

Children in primary school years may be concerned that divorce is their responsibility. They may think that they have misbehaved or that they did something wrong. This leads to a decline in self-confidence and a lack of self-love in children. Often, such behaviour leads to doubting and blaming oneself for everything wrong that goes around the world.

Impact of Divorce on Teenagers

During a divorce, younger children tend to grow more dependent, while teenagers become more independent. Although it is natural for teenagers to become increasingly self-reliant and separate from their parents, divorce can hasten this process and force them to do so before they are ready.

As a result of divorce, some teenagers become rebellious. They may misbehave in an attempt to get attention or as a result of their situation’s rage and dissatisfaction. Aggression could become an issue. Teenagers may feel enraged as a result of the divorce and the changes it brings. They may hold one parent responsible for the breakup of the marriage, or they may resent one or both parents for a dysfunctional family.

Behavioural Impact of Divorce on Children

Following are some of the most common behavioural effects of divorce on children.

Poor Academic Performance 

Divorce is difficult for all family members. Children may get distracted and confused as they try to comprehend the changing dynamics of the household. One of the repercussions of divorce on children can get noticed in their academic achievement. Children who are distracted are more likely to be unable to concentrate on their schoolwork.

Social Isolation

According to research, divorce can have social consequences on children. Children may find it more difficult to relate to others and have fewer social contacts. Children may feel uneasy and question if their family is the only one who has gone through a divorce.

The feeling of Anger/Irritation

When children are overwhelmed and unsure how to respond to the effects of divorce, they may become irritable or aggressive. Their rage can get focused on a variety of alleged causes. Children who are going through a divorce may become enraged towards their parents, themselves, friends, and others. While the anger of many children subsides after a few weeks, it is vital to be aware that it may be a lingering effect of the divorce on children if it persists.

They become self-destructive

Unresolved conflict may lead to unexpected future risks while children are going through a divorce. Children who had experienced divorce in the previous 20 years were more likely to commit crimes, rebel through disruptive behaviour that threatens a child’s health, and report having acquired smoking habits or prescription drug usage, according to research.

Emotionally Vulnerable

Children may be overwhelmed and emotionally sensitive as a result of their parent’s divorce. Children need a way out for their feelings — talking to someone, anyone who would listen, etc. – and how they process their feelings may be affected by divorce.

Trust Issues in Relationships

Finally, despite their best intentions to establish stable relationships as adults, research shows that those who have experienced divorce in parents are more likely to divorce their partners. According to some studies, children from divorced homes are two to three times as likely to divorce than children from non-divorced families.

Divorce might not be wrong

There are times, however, when parental separation is better for the kids. Kids shouldn’t be witnessing domestic violence. Subjecting children to violence represents emotional abuse, and it can have a long-lasting impact on children.

Even if the fights are never physical, continuing conflicts can also be harmful to kids. For example, shouting, name-calling, and threatening each other could harm a child’s development. Eventually, children think this behaviour is normal and might be at risk of repeating the cycle.


In a lot of divorce research, it’s evident that children are resilient. However, in the first 1 to 3 years after separation, the repercussions of separation are more challenging to deal with. Furthermore, not all children experience negative consequences as a result of divorce. Those who live in high-conflict areas may even perceive the divide as a good thing.

Finally, it comes down to doing what is best for your family. Make every effort to convey to your youngster that you are still a family – you are just changing. Your child, more than anything else, deserves to know that you love and support them unconditionally, regardless of your relationship situation.

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