Psychological Impacts on Children going through a Divorce
It is imperative to understand that each divorce situation is unique. The causes and impacts are divergent by cases and that includes the effects on children. The emotional impacts that children experience vary from age. For instance, younger children may be affected differently than say a teenager. Teenagers may be more prone to lashing out and demonstrating their emotions in an aggressive manner. Their reasoning is that since their parents failed to keep their own commitments, then they have reason to get back at their parents. While teenagers may transform to become more independent, younger children’s dependence may be intensified due to wishful thinking. A child may think that the divorce is temporary and deep down, he believes that his parents will get together again, however, the quicker he accepts the change, the better off he will be.
Psychological responses of children vary based on three fundamental factors: the quality of the relationship between their parents, the intensity and duration of the parental conflict, and the ability for parents to give attention to their kids after the divorce. (O’Connell Corcoran)
The psychological impact on children also vary with gender as boys and girls differ in how they suffer from a divorce. Compared to girls, boys externalize their feelings and may act out their anger and frustrations. On the contrary, girls tend to internalize their stresses and may become depressed and develop unhealthy eating or sleeping patterns. (O’Connell Corcoran)
A major problem that causes these stresses in children is the thought that they are the reason for a divorce. They may think “Maybe if I did not do that or if I had done this” that the divorce may not have happened. Realizing that it is not their fault is crucial in allowing the child to get through the divorce process easier.
Individual or group therapy sessions can be of great guidance for children going through the divorce process because it can teach them lessons of respect and compassion.
To prevent or combat these impacts on children, parents need to understand that they should teach their children of responsibility while teaching them independence.
It is entirely possible for children to thrive regardless of a divorce only if they make the conscious decision to do so. With that being said, there are advantages to having a loving adults who can nurture and guide them in the right direction in spite of a divorce allowing the child to have a solid future. The children who succeed after a divorce have parents who are strong in communication and working together.