How Does Divorce Affect Children?
Common Divorce Practices That May Negatively Impact Children
Divorce can be frustrating for the children involved as it not only impacts their lifestyle, but their voices and preferences can easily get lost during the process.
For many parents going through a divorce, they’re hyper-focused on legal proceedings and how things are being handled in court. However, they can get so caught up in the legality of things, they may overlook or forget how their actions could affect their children.
Discussing the Negatives of the Relationship Openly
Children shouldn’t have to pick a side in a divorce and they shouldn’t have to harbor resentment towards one parent over the other. During and after a divorce, some parents feel the need to negatively talk about their ex-spouse in a capacity in which their children can hear.
The moment you discuss negative interactions with your child, you put them in a difficult position regarding how they feel towards the other parent. Don’t make your child pick a side. They should have the same bond with both parents and feel nothing but love to and from both parties.
Changing Their Schools
After a divorce, it is common one parent will move out from the family home, but the location of the new home can have an impact on the child. Depending on the distance of the move, the custodial parent may end up changing the child’s school as a result of the move.
Unfortunately, changing schools after a divorce can have a negative impact on friendships, as well as the child’s performance. It may also cause the child to feel negative about the parent that forced the change in schools as they may no longer be happy in their new school.
Fighting In Front of Children
Exposing your children to any arguments and divorce discussions can be damaging in a number of ways. First, it can cause kids to feel a certain way about one of the parents if they discover a fact that led to the divorce. Second, it can make the children feel as though the divorce is their fault. Finally, your children may feel hurt and disappointment about the situation.
Allowing Divorce to Impact a Bond with Children
Let’s face it, divorce can be a stressful and emotionally draining process. It can be easy for some parties to shut down and allow themselves to personally be negatively impacted by the proceedings and the contentious matters.
Unfortunately, this can negatively impact the bond and relationship parents have with children. If you allow the stress to cause you to miss time with your children or make it difficult to communicate, it can harm the overall bond and children may shut out the parent because they may experience the stress themselves.
Force Your Children to Make Difficult Choices
It is imperative that you avoid forcing your children to make difficult choices during a divorce. This may include who to go with during holidays and who they want to live with — if the children are of age to choose.
A divorce is hard enough on children as it is. Having to make decisions regarding one parent over the other can be damaging to them emotionally and psychologically. Let them know they have the right to make decisions, and regardless of what they choose, they’ll be loved.
Recognizing the importance of children and their feelings during a divorce can help make a divorce a bit easier. No divorce is ever perfect, but when both sides can make their children a focus, they make better decisions for everyone involved. A smooth process means better relationships, more confidence in children moving forward, and the ability to work together to ensure your children are happy regardless of the outcome.
Common Emotional and Psychological Effects
All children are different, but it's fair to say that your divorce will have some emotional or psychological effect on your children. Some of the most common side effects include:
- Poor performance at school
- Disinterest in things that they used to enjoy
- Becoming withdrawn toward friends and family
- Feeling like the divorce is somehow their fault
- Feelings of insecurity and instability
Many professionals recommend that parents get together to tell their children about the decision to divorce. In a calm, loving way, parents are encouraged to explain how this will affect the children, stressing that this is in no way their fault.
Child Custody and Visitation
Depending on the relationship you have with your spouse, child custody and visitation may become an issue. You may be able to settle on a favorable compromise outside of court through mediation or collaborative law. However, if you and your spouse can't come to a decision, you will have to go to court to have a judge decide the fate of your children. which could be very traumatic for them.
At Chung & Ignacio, LLP, our attorneys are sensitive to the fact that this is a trying time for you and your family. We do our best to provide compassionate representation and emotional support to our clients who facing the difficulties of divorce with children.