How Divorce Impacts Children

Divorce is common in the United States. After half of marriages in the United States end in divorce, and majority of these couples have children. Divorce causes changes the dynamics in the household; parents live separately and as a result children either live with one of their parents or both, with a variable for the amount of time they spend with either one. Although in some instances, children feel a sense of relief once their parents divorce because of tension between their parents in forms of arguments and physical or mental abuse, most children see their parent’s divorce as a catastrophe. As a result, most children develop emotional and psychological effects as a response to their parent’s divorce. It is unfortunate that children are victims to their parent’s divorce but it is possible to combat the negative effects of divorce

When addictions such as alcohol and drugs are involved in a marriage that eventually leads to divorce, children tend to be aware of the addiction and it usually affects their academic performance, self-esteem, and peer relationships. Addictions such as alcohol and drugs causes the parent(s) to become undependable and emotionally unavailable. Addictions can also lead to spousal and child abuse, loss of job, and lack of trust. Children whose parents abuse alcohol, whether their parents is a quiet or boisterous drunk, causes the child to be embarrassed of his/her parents causing the child to usually take on the parent role.

Around 10-15% of divorce cases are taken to court over child custody over issues of custody, financial support, and visitation (Wallerstein, 1980). Although most parents who go to court are hostile towards his/her ex-spouse and lawyers are aware of this hostility and anger, lawyers still fight for their client regardless if it is beneficial for the child. The purpose most divorce cases go to court is because one or both of the parents seek vengeance on the other spouse, without taking in consideration the benefit of the child.

It is obvious and a human instinct to protect your offspring, but sadly some parents don’t. In Richard Emory’s book entitled, “Dealing with the Emotions so You and Your Children can Thrive,” he writes how children with parents who put their children first from the start have an advantage over children whose parents who cannot separate their negative feelings toward their failed marriage and as a result refuse to co-parent smoothy. It is important to MAINTAIN OPEN COMMUNICATION with your children so that they are able to express their emotions. Children should not be caught in the middle of their parent’s divorce, parent’s should be mature and not try to seek vengeance on each other by depriving children of time with their father or mother by demanding full custody, unless of course one of the parent is unfit according to the court.

Children tend to struggle academically during their parents divorce, therefore parents should communicate with their children’s teachers to make them aware of why the child may seemed stressed or troubled. Parents should not assume that they are the only ones struggling during this time, but realize the major impact it has on their children. Children tend to confide in close friends as an outlet for their feelings. When a child is engaged in extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs, there will be less time to dwell on his/her parents divorce.

In short, do away with the marriage if it is not working but be mindful of your actions in front of your child. Parents need to realize that this is a terrifying time not only for them, but their children. Do not introduce new boyfriends/girlfriends to your child unless you are certain that this is ‘THE ONE,” (AGAIN!).

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