The Negative Effects of Divorce on Children What to Do & How to Avoid It

No one plans to get a divorce. We all set out with the best intentions, for better or worse.

But when bad gets worse, divorce is sometimes the best solution. It’s not an easy decision, and it’s a personal one that only you and your spouse can make. The decision isn’t about the kids, but it certainly does affect them.

And most of us have seen examples of divorce gone wrong. It’s never a good idea to involve kids in disputes. We now have kids who often have a lot of unanswered questions. And too many of us get so caught up in the emotion of the divorce itself that we forget who might be watching.

Short-term effects of divorce

Just like you had dreams of happily ever after, so did your kids. Actually, they probably never considered a scenario where their family was living separately. The following are short-term effects of divorce to look out for.

  • Anxiety – Especially when there’s arguing, kids can become very anxious as a result of divorce. But they may also become anxious about the unknown outcomes and potential scenarios. For the first time ever, children are dealing with an uncertain future.
  • Self-blame – It’s natural for children to blame themselves for their parents’ divorce. As such, they feel that they are responsible for fixing the relationship. This level of stress can cause children to start having nightmares and negative thoughts.
  • Sadness – The reality that one parent will be living separately is sad for everyone, especially the kids.

Long-term effects of divorce

There are also long-term effects that can impact a child throughout his or her life. The following are some of the potential long-term effects.

  • Behavioral issues – When little people experience big emotions, they don’t always know the appropriate outlet. This can lead to outbursts and antisocial behavior. He or she may seem to have trouble controlling their temper, and they may end up in big trouble, especially in the teenage years.
  • Substance abuse – Children of divorce are more likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol, possibly as a way of self-medicating feelings of depression and anxiety. Long-term substance abuse can have a very negative effect on the child’s adult life.
  • Troubled relationships – Children of divorce are likely to have trouble forming and/or maintaining their own relationships. When parents get divorced, the kids may grow up without a good example of a successful romantic relationship (but not in all cases).
  • Poor socio-economic position – Children who are a product of divorced parents are less likely to excel in school, which could put them in a position where they struggle later in life. Their lack of interest in education could follow them for a lifetime, and depending on their career path, it could cause them to struggle financially.

How to negate the negative effects of divorce

There can be a dark side to divorce for the children, but it doesn’t have to be that way, especially in the long term. In some cases, divorce can have a positive impact on the family. When parents are happier, the kids will benefit. In many cases, kids end up spending more quality time with their parents when time is split.

The key is to focus on the positive effects with your children. Talk about everything that’s happened and how your child feels about the divorce. And be sure to focus on the positives of the situation as much as possible. Let them know that it’s okay to be sad, and all changes require some adjustment, but there are some positive things to look forward to in the future (e.g., less fighting, more quality time with each parent, etc.). Check in with your child to talk about their feelings as often as you feel necessary, and don’t hesitate to get them counseling if they are struggling. It’s best to work through their feelings as the family dynamic changes.