How divorce affects kids
Written by Jennifer Moshier

How divorce affects kids

A divorce with children involved can add strain to an already stressful situation. Divorce creates massive changes for kids, no matter how old they are. They see their parents’ love for each other fade and their marriage end, sometimes well before the divorce.

A divorce is a stressful situation for anyone. Before proceeding, consider and plan for how it will affect the kids. There are some surprising ways the stress can show up through their behavior. Kids may show changes in mental and physical ways; it may even show up with changes at school. You should prepare to navigate the impact it will have on them.

Mental Effects

Consider the feelings you’re having as you are going through a divorce. Now, imagine a child or teenager who is still learning to handle their strong emotions. The mental/emotional ways that divorce affects kids are sometimes overlooked. Just like adults, your kids will likely go through a grieving process. They will be sad, angry, nervous and more. They may even feel all of these at once.

When kids see their parents divorce, they may feel a sense of responsibility. Young children often place the blame on themselves, thinking if they can “be good” their parents will stay together. Older kids typically shift the blame to one or both parents.

After the kids process their feelings about the cause of the divorce, they may start to feel added responsibility to help at home. They may worry more about taking care of the house, helping their parents and caring for themselves. This added pressure can create stress for them. Additionally, many kids want to protect their parents during this difficult time and try to hide their stress. This also brings anger that they have to go through this.

Physical Effects

Sometimes the emotional impact shows up with physical symptoms. Kids may be sick more often. Stress can lead to sleeplessness, fatigue, illness and can even trigger asthma. The struggle to cope can make their bodies more susceptible to infection or disease.

Injuries may also increase for kids whose parents divorce. Sometimes, this is a result of acting out. Other times, fatigue or lack of attention can play a role. Accidents are often overlooked as a consequence of how divorce affects kids.

Physical symptoms can be easy to miss. You may think it’s just an unlucky streak. Consider the possibility that the divorce may be taking a physical toll on the kids.

Educational Effects

Divorce can affect kids at school, too. For some, grades start to slip. The stress and distraction of the divorce may take away from their focus on assignments and studying. Look for signs early on that your kids may not be putting in enough effort at school.

Anger can also lead to bullying behavior. Experts looking at how divorce affects kids find that they tend to lash out away from home. If kids have bullying tendencies, they may increase dramatically. This behavior may start suddenly and head toward trouble before you realize it.

Friendships may change at school after a divorce. Kids associate with people with whom they can relate. They may pull away from friends with home lives they envy or gravitate toward others with relatable split homes. By itself, this is neither good nor bad; friendships evolve at school. Still, navigating new friendships can create additional stress in their lives.

If you are considering divorce, the process you choose may make a difference in how divorce affects kids. You may want to consider collaborative divorce to give your family an opportunity to work through your differences and focus on results. Contact Best Legal Choices for help.