Written by Liza John 

Going through a divorce is hardly easy and when it involves kids, things can get even more messy. Some people believe that divorce does not really affect the children while others disagree. In a way, both beliefs are right. The effects of divorce on each child vary between individuals and age groups. Some kids bounce back quickly after a divorce; even then, it can be safely said that even the most resilient of kids have some difficulty with their parents’ divorce.  

Toddlers, middle-schoolers, and teenagers respond differently to their parents’ separation. Toddlers struggle to understand the concept of divorce and feel stressed due to sudden changes in parental relations, living spaces, and peer groups. Since they are more self-centered during this period, the children believe that they caused their parents to separate. To deal with this excessive stress, they tend to express regressive behavior or become extremely clingy.   

Middle-schoolers have similar responses to divorce. They also tend to withdraw from everyone else and develop anxiety due to uncertainty. Middle-schoolers and teens equally show anger at the changes in their life and may develop resentment towards one or both the parents. Teens may even cut off their relationship with a parent completely.  

Studies have shown that the first year after separation is more or less the toughest year for kids. After this, they adapt to the changes they can never go back to their pre-divorce normal. It has been shown that the influence of a divorce can last more than 25 years! However, there are some effects produced by divorce that is seen in a majority of the kids who go through it.  

1.Reduced Academic Performance 

A divorce takes an immense toll on the minds of children. Out of concern for their family, they become stressed as well as become distracted from academics. Kids going through a divorce find it hard to focus and come to see schoolwork as meaningless. They may also neglect studies as a rebellion against the parents’ decision to separate. Children who go through messy splits are more likely to drop out of school as well.   

2.Higher Chances To Display Destructive Behavior 

The feelings of neglect and unresolved conflicts during a divorce may manifest later as destructive behavior later in life. Children from separated families are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. They also engage in sexual activity before the age of sixteen, especially the girls who grow up in the absence of a father.  

Sometimes the unresolved feelings about the divorce result in extreme anger. Children growing up with such feelings also have a propensity to display criminal behavior or suicidal tendencies.  

3.Susceptibility To Poor Physical Health  

With the stress brought by the sudden changes in life, children of divorced families have weaker immune systems. They also have poor eating and sleeping habits which adversely affect their health. Research has shown that an experience with parents’ divorce can increase the chances of stroke in individuals. In addition, a divorce results in lesser resources for health insurance, nutritional diets, or a safe environment to live in, all these factors also add to poor health.  

4.Increased Chances Of Mental Illness  

Apart from the initial feelings of sadness following a divorce, children who go through this ordeal are highly likely to develop clinical depression. This is seen more in kids above the age of 11. A concerning number of these children also develop suicidal tendencies, especially boys.  

Regardless of age, gender, and culture, children whose parents are separated also develop anxiety disorders, stress-related conditions, and adjustment disorders more often than children with both parents.  

5.Relationship Troubles 

Kids with divorced parents grow into adults who struggle to develop and maintain healthy romantic relationships. Owing to their parent’s relationship woes, these children view relationships with much less enthusiasm and avoid entering committed long-term ones.  

Similarly, these individuals also have trouble with peer relationships and tend to isolate themselves at school. This can be attributed to the low self-image that appears as a result of the divorce.  

Bottom Line  

When the relationship between the parents declines, it has obvious effects on the children as well. Staying together just for the kids is an easy solution that some parents choose. While the stability can do good, if there are regular arguments or yelling between the parents, it can affect the children even worse.  

Parents should always keep the well-being of their children while trying to make the best decision for themselves. Try to ease the topic of separation to the kids and make sure they understand what it means. Provide constant support and guidance to them. Remember to prevent situations where they can develop feelings of loss, separation anxiety, and fear of abandonment. Get professional help to resolve issues, if needed.