How Does Divorce Affects Children
I thought I knew the extent to which these children I cared about so much were suffering. In fact, initially I was of the impression that if only I could provide them will all their basic needs(food, clothing, etc), very soon they would not only forget about their biological father, but also returned to be the children they once were, prior to their parents getting divorced. However, it turned out that I was wrong!
When it comes to the subject of children and divorce, do we really know the extent to which children of divorce are affected? Based on findings, approximately 50% of all marriages now end in divorce, which means that an average of one million children experience the breakup of their families, annually. It is believed that only 40% of the children born today will actually reach the age of 18 in an intact, two-parent home, due to divorce. The changing custody rules complicates matter even further. This means the majority of the children of divorced parents will be allowed to have only occasional contact with their fathers or no contact whatsoever.
Psychological Consequences of Divorce
Children are usually affected by the breakup of the family in multiple ways. We are already aware of the fact, that both parents usually have very strong influences on the development of their children; yet with a divorce that equal availability of both parents will no longer exist.
Children are also part of a family that has been under tension for quite a long time. After hearing the word divorce spoken out aloud or even shouted out in their homes time and time again for months or even years, they have come to the realization that the relationship has been disrupted and they may start to think about their fate. They have already seen one parent walked out on them and may fear that the other parent will do the same.
They may feel unhappy, confused, angry, anxious; they may even become depressed or disruptive, or they may perform poorly in school. Many children in particular the younger ones, feel that they are to be held responsible for the divorce. They feel that if they had been better children, maybe their parents would still be together.They may attempt to reunite their parents, perhaps by being very good or by fantasizing about reconciliation.
Relationships with both parents usually alter during and after a divorce. Children may become disobedient and argumentative; in adolescence, they may emotionally disengage themselves from their families.
Most of the times, children are forced to listen each parent continuously pointing out the faults of each other. They may find themselves in the middle of a custody battle, and may be forced to choose sides. Parents may compete for their children's affection and may attempt to bribe them with gifts or privileges.
Immediately after the divorce, parents are often placed under an enormous amount of stress, and may be incapable of providing warmth or control; they may be less affectionate, inconsistent with discipline, uncommunicative, or even non-supportive. Also, children may become upset when their parents start dating or establishing relationships with others.
A boy who is living with his mother for example, may assume the role of "man of the house", and may feel threatened when a man he considers a "rival" appears on the scene. The way children respond to divorce is influenced by a number of factors. Perhaps the three most important factors are the following:
1.The amount of hostility accompanying the divorce:- It's believed that in general, it's harder for children to adjust to the situation, if there is a great deal of hostility and bitterness before or after a divorce.
Parental conflict is often considered the main reason for children's lowered sense of well-being. When parents fight, children develop fears and anger. They are especially vulnerable when they have to choose between one parent and the other. Relentless legal battles(over custody, for example), or disagreements over the division of property, child support, visitation, or child care, make the situation much more difficult for everyone involved.
2. The amount of actual changes in the child's life :- According to one social science expert, a child is less likely to have adjustment problems after the divorce of his/her parents, if he/she continues to live in the same home, attends the same school, and has the same friends.
Contrarily, it will be much difficult for a child to adjust, if the child's daily life is disrupted in major ways such as moving back and forth from one parent's household to the other's, losing old friends, entering a new school, and so on. It's believed that the child self-confidence and sense of order in the world are more likely to be affected, the more adjustments that child is forced to make, especially during the period immediately after the divorce.
3. The nature of the parent-child relationship:- Other human behavior specialists argue that the child will be able to make a successful adjustment, if there is long-term involvement and emotional support coming from both parents. They further argue that whether or not both parents are present in the home, the nature of the continuous parent-child interaction is in fact much more important.
To summarize when it comes to the subject of children and divorce, after a divorce, divorced children often walk around with a tremendous amount of anger, bitterness, hostility, fears, and other negative emotions stored up deep within. It's not just the parents who suffer, children do suffer psychologically. In fact, they are left with their share of emotional scars.