Some children of divorce go through difficult times when their parents split up. Parents sometimes forget their children because of the divorce … with consequences.
There are many reasons for a divorce, but there is one thing people who are willing to divorce usually agree: the children shouldn’t suffer from it.
In most cases, however, this is easier said than done. No matter how good the resolutions are, the separation of parents leaves its mark on children of all ages.
Find out in our guide which consequences and problems children are confronted with when their parents divorce, and how well the offspring deal with the difficult situation.
The Consequences of Separation
When a marriage breaks up, not only do the adults suffer, the ideal world of the child is also in pieces.
The shattering of basic trust in the family affects children of all ages and has complex consequences, which experts say can be categorized into short-term and long-term effects.
What feelings and problems do they have?
Children have different worries according to their age. Kindergarten children are afraid that they will lose a parent.
Older children may even blame themselves for the separation of their parents. In the case of teenagers, different things come together:
They are in puberty and already have ambivalent feelings. Unlike younger children, they can grasp the separation, but end up in real emotional chaos.
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Short-term effects can be felt within the first two years after the divorce.
The younger the child, the less it will notice the divorce – right? Unfortunately, this assumption is a fallacy.
In toddlerhood, the little ones do not yet consciously fully perceive the separation of their parents, but the change in the family system does not leave them without a trace.
Dealing with the divorce can manifest itself through relapse into discarded behavior, for example when the child no longer sleeps through the night, wets itself again, sucks the thumb, or needs a pacifier.
Fear of loss is also not an isolated case: suddenly the child who previously enjoyed going to daycare or to grandma and grandpa no longer wants to go there and desperately clings to mom or dad.
Older children, for example from primary school age, are more aware of what is going on within the family and often try to take on or replace the role of the missing parent.
Taking on this role that is not age-appropriate can lead to social and school problems, for example, if the child tries to assume this overriding role among their peers.
In addition to anger, sadness, and fear, many children feel guilty and blame themselves for the separation of their parents. To make matters worse, the parents are deeply divided and cannot agree, a visit to the family law attorney helps.
Getting help is not a shame, on the contrary, understand the accompanying support as an opportunity to find the best solution for the child’s well-being and to protect the offspring from harm.
Long-term effects affect
No divorced parent would like to read this, but many children of divorce still have to struggle in adulthood with the consequences and problems that result from the divorce of their parents.
According to studies, it is more difficult for children of divorce to enter into a stable partnership or to start a family because there is a lack of basic trust in partnership and family. The fear that their own relationship will also fail becomes a constant companion for many adult children of divorce.
These are possible long-term consequences for children of divorce:
Sometimes parenting divorce is the better way to go when there is too much discrepancy and conflict. Above all, the children suffer from this, because they reproach themselves and get the feeling that they have to stand on one side or take over the part of the parent who has dropped out.
- Separation fears or excessive dependence on the partner or even giving up on oneself are possible consequences.
- When a parent moves out, their gender role in child development is missing. This can lead to difficulties in shaping one’s own gender role.
- A lack of trust and independence often leads to relationship difficulties.
- In addition to these social difficulties, children of divorce are more likely to suffer from depression, burnout, and physical problems associated with stress.
- Children of divorce also tend to develop infections more often. The researchers also see a sign of ongoing stress here.
As a parent, you can do something about the long-term effects
If the parents are role models, resolve their conflicts among themselves, and talk to each other for the good of the child, the long-term effects are likely to be far fewer.
- Frustration with the ex-partner should not be discussed with or in front of the child. That adds to the stress.
- Allow contact. Regardless of whether the child lives with you or with your ex-partner: Contact or at least the possibility of contact with both parents is important. Also and especially when new partners come into play.
- Never blame the child!
- Show the child that one can continue to communicate with one another.
Why you shouldn’t stay together for the sake of the children?
With all of the above-mentioned consequences and problems that arise from divorce for the child’s development, every couple of parents probably asks themselves in the course of the separation process whether it would not be better to get together because of the children. The answer is clear: no!
Children quickly notice that something is wrong and see through the “We pretend” facade. If everyday life with parents who are still living together is only characterized by quarrels, conflicts, or a cool atmosphere of mutual dislike, this also puts a significant strain on the offspring.
The better way is to make things clear and not gloss over anything. Let your child know about the divorce on an equal footing and answer their questions seriously. Lies and secrets are counterproductive.
Fair play in divorce
But what does it look like, the golden mean? What is the best way to deal with the subject of divorce?
First of all, it is important to make clear and binding rules together, because routine creates security.
It is important for children to know which parent they will live with permanently after the divorce and when and how often they can see the other parent.
There are some pitfalls to avoid for the benefit of all involved:
Never speak negatively about your ex-partner in front of your child.
Under no circumstances should you try to restrict contact between the child and the parent in order to seek belated revenge for fraud or the like.
First and foremost, you are harming your own child, who is thrown into a loyalty conflict, which can have serious psychological consequences, such as depression.
It is therefore important to treat each other fairly, no matter how difficult it is. The parent living separately from the offspring should not try to outdo the other parent in the favor of the child with gifts and special activities – that is not fair either.
Ultimately, it is up to you: the fairer and friendlier you as parents treat each other during and after the divorce, the easier it will be for your child to get used to the new family constellation.