Negotiating a marriage breakup can be difficult. It can have long lasting effects on spouses as well as their children. Parents may be disturbed by the legal, financial and emotional problems that divorce can bring. Children can also find it hard to adjust to the changes in their lifestyle and activities because of the divorce. So how can divorce impact your children? Let’s find out.
Impacts of Divorce on Children
Experts such as a Denver divorce attorney from Ciancio Ciancio Brown, PC, have noted the following common changes in the behavior of children whose parents are negotiating a breakup.
Anger is a common emotion that is seen among children whose parents are undergoing a marriage separation. They are not clear as to why this has to take place and find it difficult to accept this new reality. Children can refuse to relate to a parent who may be the cause of the breakup. They may even stop communicating with such a parent.
2. Social Withdrawal
Some children may struggle socially. They are unsure of their own relationships with others and fear that this may break up too. They might become anxious and fearful of social situations. They may avoid communicating with friends and attending social events. You will need to boost their confidence and help them get rid of their low self-image.
3. Lower Academic Performance
Your children’s grades could drop significantly. They may feel neglected or distracted by the whole divorce scenario. If this situation is not tackled immediately, it could result in a failure or a general disinterest in academics as a whole. It could also lead to increased chances of dropping out of school or college.
4. Separation Anxiety
Parents who are separated may recognize signs of separation anxiety in children. Younger children may cry and cling to their parents. They will ask for a parent who is not present. You can calm these children by telling them where your spouse is, having them communicate and showing them a schedule of visits so that they know when they can expect to see the missing parent.
5. Regressive Behavior
Children between 2 and 6 years of age may go back to having temper tantrums, wetting the bed, or sucking the thumb. This shows that your child is suffering from stress and anxiety. You will have to find ways to reassure them that everything is fine, so that your child feels adequately protected.
6. Changes in Eating and Sleeping Patterns
Children whose parents are going through a divorce can either stop eating regularly or binge eat on unhealthy foods that contribute to weight gain and an increase in body mass index. It is seen quite commonly in such children, especially if the divorce occurred before they started going to school.
Sleep issues are common in all age groups, which could also result in children gaining weight. Younger children may experience nightmares or have dreams about creatures with supernatural powers that can wreak havoc and cause anxiety before sleep.
7. Picking Sides
Children of divorcing parents can feel uncomfortable about being left in the middle. They may feel that siding with one parent will signify disloyalty to the other. They may feel a need to be fair, even when this undermines their own well-being.
Children who are saddened about the divorce could develop clinical depression. It could also lead to suicidal thoughts, more commonly seen in boys than in girls, especially if they are adolescents.
9. Taking Risks
Aggression, the use of drugs and alcohol or early sexual activity are commonly seen in adolescents whose parents are divorced. This could be because of altered notions about marriage and childbearing.
10. Relationship Struggles
Children of divorced parents can lose faith in the institution of marriage or long term relationships. They might not commit to marriage and run an increased chance of being divorced themselves.
How you can Help your Child Cope
The following are three important steps that you can take that will help your children deal with the effects of your breakup on them.
1. Teach Coping Skills
As parents, we have a responsibility to teach our children how to cope by asking them to think about the consequences of their actions before taking them, and making wise choices.
2. Get Professional Help
If you anticipate that your child will be impacted by your divorce, talk to their teacher or counselor. You can even contact a licensed therapist to deal with problems faced by yourself and your kids.
3. Monitor Adolescents Closely
Paying attention to adolescents and who they spend time with will reduce the chances of substance abuse and low academic performance.
We have noted that children of divorced parents are also faced with emotional and psychological challenges. We have to support and train them on how to deal with these problems effectively so that they have a better future.