Are you thinking about getting a divorce but aren't sure what it's going to mean for your children? Maybe you're already in the process of a divorce and aren't sure what your kids are experiencing. You're a parent either way, and the number one thing to you is making sure that the divorce isn't going to hurt your children, right? You want to make sure that they are going to get through this as unscathed as possible, and that means you're asking yourself, 'what does divorce mean for my kids?' Well, we're going to take a look at just that.
How many people have you heard talk about staying together 'for the children?' They say that they can't stand their partner, but they stay for the kids. Or they aren't in love with their partner anymore, but they stay for the kids. Whatever it is they feel about their partner, they are making what they believe is a noble sacrifice of their wants and plans for their children's happiness in the immediate time. But the truth is that they could be causing more harm than they are stopping.
Research seems to show that children do best in a happy, healthy, two-parent home. That means if their parents live together and have a happy and healthy relationship, the children do better than in a single-parent household. But note, that says happy and healthy. If there is abuse in the home or the parents are not happy being together, it will show. No matter what you try to hide 'for the sake of the children, you're not going to be able to hide everything.
Children are perceptive. They notice the little looks or comments. They recognize the signs of parents who aren't completely happy with the relationship they're in, but, just like you, they keep quiet. This type of stress and strain can hurt them over the long term because it does just that, cause stress and strain. It can affect their school life, relationships with friends, relationships with parents, and even their mental state. Because they know that there is something wrong in their household, it interferes with every aspect of their lives more and more as time goes on.
When the parents cannot live together in a happy and healthy relationship, it's better for them to separate than stay together. Research shows that children who have two parents who are happy but don't live in the same household do better than children who have two parents who live together but aren't happy. If your whole point is to do something for your children and make things easier and better for them, shouldn't you be doing whatever it is that will help them best? If you can't be happy in your relationship, leaving is what's best.
Going Through Divorce
Getting through the process of divorce is not going to be easy for your children. We're not trying to say that it is. Rather, it's going to be an extremely difficult process for your child that can be even harder if you and your partner cannot be civil to each other. If you and your partner can agree to the terms of the divorce and especially about those aspects that concern your children, it will make everything much easier on your children, but that's not always possible. If it's not, keeping your children out of everything as much as possible is crucial.
One of the most important things is to make sure that your children know that both of you still love them and that nothing is ever going to change that. It's also important to keep all the important decisions between you and your partner. Don't involve your children in the arguments or the debates or anything else about the divorce unless they have to be. And even if they do have to make sure that their exposure to everything is limited to only what they need to be part of and that you keep the ex-bashing out of the situation when you discuss things with them.
Your children love both of you, and nothing will make divorce harder on them than being in the middle of a huge battle between you both. If they feel like their parents will each go their separate ways, but everything goes through civilly, and they feel loved and cared for, it will be much easier for them. If they feel like their parents hate each other entirely and never stop fighting and keep pulling them into the middle of things, it's going to make things a whole lot harder for them.
Get Some Help
No matter how peaceful and healthy your divorce seems, it will affect your children just like it will affect you. It doesn't matter if you feel like you hate your ex or if the two of you have been living practically separate lives for years. No matter what type of relationship you had before, you're going to notice thoughts and emotions popping up that you need to deal with. If you're experiencing that, you can bet your children are as well.
Talk to your children about what they're going through and how they feel about everything. Be there to listen to what they have to say but avoid the blame game. Never blame your ex for what is happening in the relationship (even if you feel it's completely their fault). That doesn't mean you need to take the blame on yourself either. Explain to your children that no one is to blame (especially stress that they have no fault or responsibility in the divorce decision) but that you are simply deciding that your relationship is not working out.
Professional help is going to be an even more important aspect. Getting your child to talk with a professional can help them get through some of the things they are already experiencing. It can help them to voice all of their thoughts and feelings to someone that is not emotionally (or otherwise) invested in the situation. That way, they can be completely honest without feeling like they're taking sides (yes, even if you try hard not to put your children on the spot, they feel this anyway) or like they're going to upset one or the other of you.
What Happens After Divorce?
So, what will happen to your children after the divorce? There's no definitive scale that we can say your child will be 100% fine after "x" amount of time, but we can say that your child will be able to get through it. Adjusting to the differences in their life will be difficult for them, but the more mature and civil you and your partner can be, the easier it will be for them. The faster you can get them a professional, outside person to talk with, the easier it will be.
Please encourage them to open up to you, their other parent, and their therapist. Getting their thoughts and feelings out into the open will improve their way of life as well. Be prepared for just about anything. Your child, no matter how old they are, may be angry.
They may be sad. They may seem to bounce between sad and angry or have outbursts, or even have difficulty at school that they never had before. Be prepared for all of these things and understand that your child is going through a difficult time. These attacks are meant to hurt you, but only because your child is hurting and doesn't know how to show it.
Suppose you're looking for a way to help your child look for a therapist that they can talk with about everything they're experiencing. There are therapists in every city throughout the country, but it can be difficult to find someone that you are comfortable with or that your child is comfortable with. That's why ReGain is here to help you with the process of finding the right therapist right off the bat.
Therapists with ReGain are available anytime you need them and anywhere you need them because they're online rather than sitting in a specific office. Your child can communicate with them from home without having to worry about making it to appointments.
This can also help them feel more comfortable opening up because they can do it from their living room or room. They'll be able to set up appointments and meet when it's convenient, around other schedules, and even set up emergency appointments if they need to without having to worry about how to get a ride. No matter how you find a therapist for your child, getting one will be an important step in the healing process.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
At What Age Does Divorce Affect A Child?
A child’s reaction to divorce could depend on how old they were when the parents got a separation or divorce. Regardless of age, children of divorce and adult children of divorce will likely be affected somehow, according to research, which can last until they become adult children. The topic of children and divorce can be a complicated one regardless of age.
Divorce can also affect adult children in different ways. In multiple excerpts from Lelia Miller’s book about divorce, the author compiles multiple examples from her book into a few categories: unacknowledged feelings, abandonment, loss of the first family, a different view of the world, and lifelong grief. Miller’s lesson from her book can be that divorce does not end for the child. Adult children of divorce may judge others more carefully, look at the world from a different viewpoint, or feel different themselves.
However, it’s important to note that a divorce’s impact on children only changes the child depending on how they view the divorce. A parent has no control over the child’s thoughts. A parent can try to do separation and divorce to try and help the child as much as possible. These efforts can go a long way to help a child through a divorce.
Will Divorce Ruin My Child?
Divorce will not likely “ruin” your child so long as you take steps to ensure your child’s mental health. The idea of ruining a child is inherently flawed. Just because a child has a justifiably adverse reaction to something upsetting does not mean they're ruined. The impact on children of divorce varies depending on age and personality type. For example, children of divorce may express themselves by starting fights with other children at school. In other cases, younger children could hide their feelings. If left alone, both situations can see adult children of divorce deciding that their parent's divorce can influence. Yet shame or lack of understanding could exacerbate these situations, and exaggerating a child as ruined can minimize valid emotions.
There are ways to help your children learn to cope with your divorce. One such way is to look up how other parents managed their children through a divorce. This contributor from Huff Post explains how their kid transitioned well after the divorce. The author recommends that other parents in a similar situation focus on their own health, as well as letting their kids’ voices be heard. As such, both the parent and child can recover from the divorce and transition into being their best selves.
Of course, this is not always an easy task for younger and older children. Adult children of divorce may feel stressed and worried about the impact of their parent's separation or divorce. If adult children of divorce are in college and rely on their parents for financial aid, then the question of their cost for attending could affect their school performance.
After parents divorce, adult children of divorce may also be worried about visiting family relatives over the holidays and other special occasions. Depending on the severity of the divorce, adult children may feel awkward or uncertain about visiting their grandparents on either side, impacting other facets of their lives, such as relationships.
Unfortunately, adult children of divorce are increasing as older parents are seeking separation and divorce options. The New York Times references a 2012 study that establishes that the divorce rate among those older than 50 has doubled in those last two decades. Furthermore, the article provides many examples of adult children of divorce and explains how these children are coping with divorce. Some started a blog, while others consulted a support group of people with divorced parents.
As the article points out, adult children of divorce struggle in dealing with their divorced parents. But through the help of other resources available to them, like on the Internet, they can usually find a way to manage their lives as adult children of divorce.
Who Gets The House In A Divorce With Children?
For children and divorce, the house might be a focal point of your conversations with your spouse. Whoever gets the house depends on who decides ownership. The decision-maker can be either you or your spouse. Both parties can discuss the factors involved in which person will own the house. They can include the following:
If divorced parents cannot make up their mind on owning the house, they may bring the issue to court. Depending on the state, a judge may decide that the house will go either to one specific parent or demand the house be sold. The best way to prepare yourself for every possibility during a trial is to consult an experienced family law attorney based in your state. They can typically tell you the laws of your state and provide advice regarding your financial situation or if you can realistically keep your home.
Should We Stay Together For The Kids?
Divorce is not only often hard on the parents but also children of divorce. Thus, it is natural for either party to question if they should stay together for their kids. Children of divorce may be heavily impacted by their parents separating. Younger children may have emotional outbursts. Older children can feel stress about any situation that revolves around their parents, such as help with paying college tuition.
For parents, these are important questions to ask yourselves. Children of divorce can be helped by supporting their parents and other helpful resources one can find online. Younger children and adult children of divorce will all handle divorce differently. Still, ultimately the parents must decide if they are creating more problems by staying together than by choosing to separate.
How Does Divorce Affect A Child's Behavior?
If parents divorce, a child’s behavior may become affected to a certain degree, sometimes depending on their age. Babies may sense the tension between parents and feel stressed in turn. School-aged children may react to the divorce through angry outbursts at school or by distancing themselves from their family and friends.
Helping your child through your divorce can be difficult, especially if one parent looks after the child as a single mom or dad. But helping your child may not be as hard as some divorced parents fear, so long as they are also finding help for themselves. You can ask for help from close family and friends and search for support groups focusing on divorce. Children often pick up on adults’ emotions, even when they think they’re hiding it well, so help, healing, and moving on are important for everyone during a divorcee.