When couples divorce it effects everybody from the parent of the couple, to friends and relatives, but how does it effect the minds, attitudes and behaviour of children,
Research shows that the effects depend on the age of the child at the time of divorce as well as other signifcant factors such as personality, whether the child is male or female and the support provided to the children after the divorce.
For the sake of brevity, lets take a look at how age can effect children after a divorce.
Infants may not understand conflict, but may react to changes in parent’s energy level and mood. Children from three to five years of age frequently believe they have caused their parents’ divorce. For example, they might think that if they had eaten their dinner or done their chores when told to do so, Daddy wouldn’t have gone away. Preschoolers may fear being left alone or abandoned altogether.
Some psychologists believe the adjustment to parental divorce is more difficult for elementary school children than for younger or older children. School-age children are old enough to understand that they are in pain because of their parents’ separation. They are too young, however, to understand or to control their reactions to this pain. They may experience grief, embarrassment, resentment, divided loyalty and intense anger.
Teens also experience anger, fear, loneliness, depression and guilt. Some feel pushed into adulthood if they must take responsibility for many new chores or care of siblings. Teens may respond to parents’ low energy level and high stress level by trying to take control over the family. Others feel a loss of parental support in handling emerging sexual feelings.
So how as a society, as parents and respected adults can we help children through an ordeal such as a divorce.
Well surprisingly its sometimes the simple things that can be the most effective.
Although painful, discussing the separation and divorce with your children will strengthen your relationship with them. It will also maintain their trust in you. Sharing general information is appropriate when talking with younger children. Adolescents will want more details. Be sure to let them know what the future holds for them. They will want to know what their relationship will be with both parents.
It often takes two or more years for children to adjust to their parents’ divorce. Through love, understanding and keeping in close contact with your children, you will help them grow into well- adjusted and productive adults.