When a couple decides to end a marriage, the children are often collateral damage and caught in the middle, even when both parents work to minimize the damage. According to HelpGuide International, kids experience disbelief, anxiety, anger and stress at high levels as they adjust during the first year after a divorce.
Fortunately, kids can bounce back quickly with the right tools. While they may never go back to “normal,” they can live completely healthy lives and have solid relationships with both parents after a divorce.
Effect on children is different based on age
Young children have a hard time grasping the abstract nature of divorce and may struggle with the fact that they have two homes rather than one. They may also fear that their parents will stop loving them one day if they were able to stop loving their spouse.
Grade school age children often feel as if the divorce is their fault. They believe their misbehavior or something they did caused parents to fight and ultimately split up.
Teenagers often internalize their feelings and exhibit anger, even when they are feeling sad. They need to place blame and may resent their parents for a time.
Reduce stress on children during divorce
While the original upheaval is hard for kids, there are some ways to lessen the long-term effects. Co-parenting peacefully, not putting kids in the middle, maintaining healthy relationships and staying on the same page when it comes to discipline creates a stable environment that makes kids feel safe.