So what’s so bad about divorce anyhow? Helping your child endure the divorce starts with having a good understanding of what causes the problems to begin with. Unless you're familiar with the different pitfalls that exist, you won’t be able to spare your child from any of the pain and turmoil that so often accompanies parental divorce.
Divorce is a major life transition that will affect just about every aspect of your child’s life. In fact, it's hard to find a single aspect of a child’s existence that is left untouched by divorce, and that's precisely the problem. This chapter will explore the primary ways that children are injured, ending with a list of studies summing up the impact and consequences of divorce, so that you truly understand what's at stake. We'll begin with a broad overview of the different ways that divorce can affect a child’s life.
The emotional & psychological effects of divorce on children
Parents may assume that the divorce is just between them, but it often wreaks havoc on a child’s psychology and emotions just as much:
A) Because children love their parents, they are very attuned to the emotional climate of the breakup, and this impacts their own emotions as well. They worry about what the divorce will mean for them, and they also worry about you and your welfare..
B) Divorce often affects a child's self-esteem and self-identity. Among children, particularly those in their preteens years, a primary contributor to self-identity is a child’s relationship to the family. When divorce causes this family to rupture, it can leave a child with damaged self-esteem and lingering questions about who they are and where they fit in.
C) Divorce impacts a parent’s availability, and many children experience parental rejection when a mother or father essentially drops out of their lives, which can have severe psychological consequences.
The social effects of divorce on children
Divorce can impact the social development of children in many ways:
A) Divorce not only involves conflict between parents, but this hostility can carry over to extended family, limiting the access a child has to other adults who may be (or might have been) important in their lives.
B) Divorce often leads to the loss (more or less) of one parent figure, which has profound consequences on a child's social and sexual development, particularly if no other similar parent figure takes their place.
C) Divorce often affects a child's ability to form healthy relationships as adults, because patterns and fears from childhood re-emerge and cause destructive styles of relating to others.
D) Divorce can effect a child's socialization and friendships, since it's often difficult to develop the same type of close peer relationships when children spend so much time moving from one home to the next. Peer relationships have only half the time to form, and are being constantly disrupted.