A divorce is the legal separation of a married couple. When the divorce is finalized, typically everything they owned together is split in half, if a prenup is not signed. This process works out when it comes to finances, houses, and cars. It does not work out so well when it comes to the children. If the parents cannot set up a stable visitation schedule or routine for when +the child or children are supposed to be at either house, then life can be very rough as they grow up. There are many different negative effects of divorce that can affect children. It could be behaviorally, educationally, psychologically, or even physically.
When it comes to divorce affecting a child’s behavior; it could be in how violent they can be, or even if they are just closed off to people. According to Leon Kim, The process of parental divorce may evoke strong emotions in children that affect their behavior regulation, this could mean that a child going through, or growing up with their parent’s divorce they could be more emotional than other kids their age (Kim). This could mean that they have more outbursts of varying emotions. A young child could become more closed off while dealing with the divorce of his or her parents because he or she doesn’t quite understand what is happening between the adults. Not only does this affect how they interact with others, but it can affect their performance in school.
While children are dealing with their parent’s divorce they may go through many hardships in school. That is because it is an emotionally strenuous process and event to go through. Children going through divorce could be more likely to skipping school and earn bad grades. During their research on the ‘educational consequences of single parenthood in the United States and other Western societies’, Jaap Dronkers Suet-Ling Pong and Gillian Hampden-Thompson state:
On average, parental involvement in the child’s schooling is lower, and there is less supervision and lower expectation of the child. Fewer monetary and nonmonetary resources are possible reasons why students from single-parent homes tend to have lower achievement compared with students from two-parent families. (Suet-Ling Pong, and Hampden-Thompson)
This would mean that the parents aren’t as involved with child regarding school, which also means that they may not be paying as much attention to the child’s grades and attendance as they should be. This would make it easy for the child to fail in school and could cause issues between the parents and the school if the child has missed too much. Both the behavior and educational side of the effects are not all, there is also the psychological aspect as well.
Not only do children suffer from behavioral or educational problems due to divorce, but they can also suffer from psychological issues as well. They can suffer from anger, depression, anxiety and self-confidence problems. In Kimberly Kick’s paper, A Phenomenological Study of Young Adults’ regarding their Childhood Experience of Parental Divorce, she states:
Seligman states that before, during, and after a divorce takes place, children experience increasingly negative thought patterns (as cited in Root 2010). In addition, after negative thought patterns develop, they appear to continue even without subsequent negative life events to perpetuate them (Smart, 2006). This finding may explain how depression maintains itself in children despite the passage of years. (Kick)
This means that if depression can stick with a child as they grow, then so can anger issues or anxiety. Ashley Stapleton states, Even controlling for predivorce and premarriage factors, these children became more anxious, hyperactive, and oppositional over the course of middle childhood, this means that it is possible for a child of divorce to develop anxiety (Stapleton). If a child were to develop the depression or anxiety, then it can lead to self-confidence issues as they grow and age as well. Psychological issues are not where the problems stop, there are also physical issues as well.
Children going through divorce could suffer from physical issues. They could channel their emotions and feelings into smoking, drinking, or even possibly self-harm. This could happen because they do not know what else to do. In her dissertation, The Impact of Early Parental Conflict and Divorce on Physical Health in Midlife, Laura Amoit Greve explains what divorce is and actual effects it can have. On the subject of substance abuse and children of divorce, Greve says:
Older children are typically better able to understand the reasons behind their parents’ divorce, but they too can have strong reactions. This is especially true when family conflict is high (Borrine, Handal, Brown, & Searight, 1991). Some escape by becoming involved in drug and alcohol use, running away, truancy, and other delinquent behavior (Doherty & Needle, 1991). (Greve pg. 6)
This is a very accurate statement of how teenagers can resort to awful elements like drinking or drugs. They see it as an escape where they don’t have to feel the stress of what is going on around them. With some children, the stress of what is going on around them and if they are developing or have depression could be subject to self-harm. If a child is hurt and stressed about everything going on, then they could turn on themselves and blame themselves for what is going on. This is never okay for any child and is very sad when it happens.
The process of divorce is a very confusing and frustrating time for children as they grow up. They can suffer from psychological effects such as depression or anxiety, physical effects such as substance abuse, educational effects on their grades and attendance, and behavioral issues such as emotional outbursts. All of this is for a lack of knowing what to do with the emotions that they are feeling. The child could be thinking that it is his or her fault that the parents are splitting up. These thoughts are never okay for a child to feel, but these things happen every day.
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