Over the years, it has emerged that divorce is not only a traumatic experience for the concerned spouses, but also for their child or children. Indeed, it could be worse for the children since they have no control over their lives. The impact of divorce on children is mainly psychological, since they have to adjust mentally to their parents’ separation.
In order to understand the impact of divorce on children, it is essential to reflect on the circumstances surrounding divorce. To begin with, children realize that their lives will change after the divorce, but they do not know how. This experience can be quite frightening for the children. Moreover, the children have to cope with the constant changes in the family. As is the case with divorce, contact with one of the parents will be reduced. Further, the children may also have to relocate from their home or move to new schools. Depending on the circumstances of the divorce, the children may have a lower standard of living. As a result, they could be burdened with more responsibilities, such as housework. In some cases, the children maybe separated, thus some may live with their father while others live with their mother. Further, due to the stress that comes with divorce, the custodial parent may be psychologically and physically unavailable to the children’s demands. All these experiences normally have a negative impact on the children, which is manifested in various ways.
The impact of divorce on children normally depends on their age, gender and disposition. A preschooler’s reaction to divorce as well as the ability to comprehend his or her parents’ divorce differs from that of an adolescent. Owing to limited cognitive abilities, preschoolers are usually bewildered by their parents’ divorce. Additionally, they do not have sufficient coping skills to deal with the changes resulting from divorce. In view of this, they will have more problems adjusting to the divorce than older children. They may also feel as though their parents’ divorce is their fault. The preschoolers may also become clingy and insecure, fearing abandonment by the custodial parent.
The impact of divorce on children between the ages of six to eight differs from that of the preschoolers. Although less likely to think that they are to blame for the divorce, they nevertheless experience grief over losing contact with one parent. Older children aged from nine to twelve years have a better understanding of their parents’ divorce. They may consciously express their anger towards their parents, and may take the side of one parent. The impact of divorce on adolescents differs noticeably from that of the younger children, in that both the boys and girls react differently to the divorce. Girls may become withdrawn and anxious, while boys become disobedient and aggressive. Interestingly North Dakota has the lowest U.S. divorce rate, while Nevada Divorce rates are the highest, 6.6 per 1000 people
The impact of divorce on children is worse if there are constant conflicts between the parents. However, if the parents have an amicable relationship, children will be able to adjust to divorce without many problems. Given the importance of parental relationships to children after divorce, parents should prioritize the children’s needs in order to facilitate their adjustment after divorce. Parents going through divorce may want to consider the investment in a quaility length, 12 hour parenting class. Such programs will teach improved coping skills and more adaptive ways of handling the transition.