The fallout of a marriage ending is life-changing for a couple who thought that their union would last forever. For children, it represents trauma that can have long-term psychological effects. They are the true casualties of divorce. For them, life has been turned upside down as they face an uncertain, almost terrifying future.
Without warning, one household becomes two. Young children struggle with understanding what happened. Middle-schoolers may shoulder the blame for the split. Teenagers are more aware of what is happening with their reactions taking the form of anger where they essentially take sides and blame one parent for the dissolution.
Prioritizing children’s best interests
Regardless of their age, the best interests of the children should come first. That focus starts with parents being cooperative, not combative. Still, the long-lasting effects on their sons and daughters can take many forms and include:
- Various psychological disorders, including anxiety and depression
- Behavioral issues that involve impulsive or aggressive behavior
- Difficulties in communicating with their friends
- Academic challenges due to distractions that affect their ability to focus on schoolwork
- Higher likelihood of substance abuse at a young age, resulting in a possible addiction to drugs or alcohol
- Sexual activity at an earlier age
During the divorce process and after everything is finalized, parents can play an essential role in minimizing the psychological trauma that their children may be experiencing:
- Not putting children in the middle of disputes where they are forced to relay information back and forth
- Staying civil – at the very least when around the children – and establishing a mutual understanding of what is in the children’s best interests
- Consistency in disciplinary actions in both households
- Spending more time with children and help them understand that while one relationship ended, the parent-child bond remains intact
Divorced parents who establish peace and civility following the traumatic experience of divorce can make a significant difference in the well-being of their children now and in the future.