What you need to know about the effects of divorce on children

GENDER
Girls are often more emotional when it comes to the family unit becoming separated. They often go into an emotional decline and isolate themselves from the surrounding occurrences. However, they often begin to play a “motherly” role when other children are involved. Girls are usually naive when their parents are going through a divorce, as they like to believe that their parents will get back together.

Boys have a different approach to girls and are usually more accepting of their parents’ divorce. Although it is difficult, they usually like to cover their fear, anxiety, and grief through sport and keeping active.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHILD AND PARENT
The effects of divorce on children are not always detrimental to their overall health and wellbeing. If the child has strong, healthy relationships with both parents, the effects of divorce will be less damaging. Children who can openly speak to their parents about the separation and divorce are less likely to go through as much emotional stress, compared to children who cannot speak to their parents. In turn, the parent-child relationship will strengthen, which will help the child to feel comfortable and stable when seeing parents individually. In addition to this, children will feel less “betrayed” due to the divorce, and their trust in their parents will begin to grow.

The amount of detail the child would like to know depends on the age of the child. Teenagers often want to know all the details of the divorce. It is very important that the parents inform the child about the future and the circumstances in which they will have to live. Failure to do so leaves children feeling uncertain, unstable, betrayed and often suicidal (particularly with older children) when they cannot cope with their new lifestyles and demands. These feelings of melancholy often cause children to rebel. Other factors which may cause children to rebel and go into an emotional decline is when there are many disruptions in their lives – changing schools, homes and neighbourhoods etc.

Parents must accept the fact that their children will have a great amount of anger and grief, they must be supportive of their children and help them to find safe and positive ways to deal with their emotions. If this is not done, children may inflict pain on themselves, others, other people’s property and sometimes even animals. While dealing with the issues, both parents must show support and love to provide the child with the feeling of belonging – which may have been lost during the divorce.

It is vital that children are aware that they will continue to have relationships with both parents once the divorce has been settled. It is up to the parents to ensure that the child’s life remains fairly constant – children have the difficulty of dealing with the family unit being broken, thus, they should not be forced to deal with any other issues or conflicts. Children will begin to grow and accept their new lifestyles if parents keep the conflict and issues to a minimum. If this cannot be done, both parents must agree to keep all children out of the all the hostility. This is one of the most important factors for the children’s wellbeing, self-worth and happiness. If it is not done, they will begin to accumulate a lot of intense anger which could possible result in hatred towards parents.

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