Divorce has a significant impact on the lives of children who are still young and innocent. It introduces a drastic change in the lives of young children whose parents are splitting up, making them emotionally distressed.
In many instances, when parents fight, children are caught in between, and they may end up blaming themselves for their parents’ marital differences. This paper discusses the effects of divorce on children and how children of different ages are likely to react to their parents’ divorce.
In many instances, the consequences of divorce are negative because they break up families making children live with only one parent who is granted custody after marriage is legally terminated. As a result, a child may be forced to adjust his expectations to conform to the difficult situation he experiences at home. When parents split up, children are left with a lot of uncertainty regarding how things are going to be in the future.
This uncertainty may have negative effects on their growth and development because it makes them more stressed. Also, their inability to interact with one of their parents regularly may lead to feelings of loneliness, thereby making them unhappy (Clarke-Stewart and Brentano 106). Consequently, since they are still young and naïve, they lack the coping skills required to deal with their parents’ divorce.
The loss of social status is another effect that children may be forced to deal with after the divorce. The parent who wins custody may be forced to spend more time working due to the heavy financial burdens he or she is faced with after the divorce. Additionally, a family may be forced to shift from their current area of residence to another area and this may separate children from the social environment they are accustomed to.
This makes it difficult for children to adapt to such changes because they may be forced to live in a less ideal residential area. Parents may also be forced to take their children to new schools and this may make it difficult for children to live behind their previous lives (Clarke-Stewart and Brentano 108).
Therefore, it is important for parents to prepare their children for changes they may be forced to experience after divorce to make them have a positive future outlook.
If children were aware of existing conflicts between their parents before their break-up, they might blame one of the parents for the divorce. As a result, they end up losing respect for the parent considered responsible due to the emptiness they feel after divorce. In some cases, boys whose parents are divorcing are likely to become disobedient and rebellious while girls may become withdrawn and socially inactive.
Due to limited parental supervision, some children may start acquiring bad habits which are not beneficial to their long term growth and development. Some of them may engage in alcohol and substance abuse to cover up for emotional problems they are experiencing (Clarke-Stewart and Brentano 110).
In addition, some children may be tempted to join criminal gangs to engage in crime because they are likely to feel that their parents have rejected them.
The age of a child has an impact on the way he or she is likely to react to divorce. Adolescent children are likely to react differently to the breakup of their parents compared to preteen children below the age of nine, who may view divorce as a harsh situation that is being forced on them (Foxman 71). Since custody is usually granted to one of the parents, their interactions with the other parent and other members of the extended family are reduced.
As a result, this makes them have an image of instability, inconsistency, and unfamiliarity due to drastic changes in their home surroundings.
Therefore, this affects their growth and development because parents become too absorbed in their marital disputes without taking time to think about the emotional needs of their children. As a result, children may feel that they are not getting the attention they deserve from their parents leaving them bitter and withdrawn
During visits, children who are aged between two and nine may become too emotional and they are likely to become irritable when they know that the other parent is leaving. This may make them have an unrealistic goal of uniting their parents once more so that they can continue living happily as a family. In extreme cases, such children may become moody leading to incidents of mild depressions (Foxman 74).
Additionally, the disunity being experienced may make them more insecure. At a young age, children have strong connections with both parents and they find it difficult to accept a divorce. They need to be reassured by both parents that they can still rely on them for anything to help them overcome the emotional torment they are facing.
On the other hand, adolescents are likely to develop feelings of bitterness, anger, and despair when they find out their parents are divorcing. Some teenage boys whose parents have divorced may become reclusive, and they may focus on their interests more than ever before. In some cases, a teenage boy may become indifferent to his parents and may develop rebellious attitudes to cover up for his inner insecurities (Foxman 77).
Also, an adolescent boy may prefer interacting with his friends at the expense of his family because he is likely to feel that his friends are there for him whenever he needs them. This shows that divorce reinforces feelings of anger in adolescent boys, and this may encourage them to engage in different types of vices. This is due to the fact he feels his parents did not think of him first before deciding to divorce.
Teenage girls may react in a different way to their parents’ divorce. They may develop feelings of insecurity because they are not able to share their experiences and fears with their parents. Teenage girls may also find it difficult to cope with reduced levels of parental attention, thereby affecting their confidence and self-esteem (Foxman 79).
As a result, this may make them lose interest in social activities which they enjoyed doing before the divorce. Therefore, this may make it difficult for them to form beneficial relationships with other people.
In conclusion, children find it difficult to adapt to their parents’ divorce due to various reasons. Parents need to talk to their children before they split up to make them psychologically prepared so that they adapt to resulting changes quickly. This will make them not to feel abandoned or rejected by their parents.
Clarke-Stewart, Alison, and Cornelia Brentano. Divorce: Causes and Consequences. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007. Print.
Foxman, Paul. The Worried Child: Recognizing Anxiety in Children and Helping Them Heal. New York: Hunter House, 2004. Print.