The impact of divorce on the children

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Divorce on Saturday, February 4, 2012

In our last post we discussed ways to connect and reconnect with children during the divorce process. Divorce is often the hardest on children and children tend to be confused and bewildered by the split of their parents. A divorce columnist recently highlighted three divorce myths involving perceptions on the impact of divorce on children. The myths were the following:

  1. Children will not notice the divorce.
  2. Children will understand that the divorce is not about them.
  3. The children will be alright.

The first two myths are closely related to each other. Many parents falsely believe that their separation will be a non-event in their children’s lives. While your separation may not have a huge effect on your brothers, parents, or other relatives, the breakup of a family unit has a direct impact on your children.

Children model their interactions with other people on how their parents interact. Even if a couple is not outwardly hostile in front of their children, most children are able to pick up on lingering tensions and issues between their parents. The children may not be able to articulate what is wrong, but the body language that parents exhibit toward each other will be picked up and mirrored by the children, which could have serious consequences.

Mimicking the behavior parents is a subconscious thing that children do. It is also natural subconscious tendency for a child to experience anxiety and believe that they were somehow to blame for the divorce. Most children believe that they are at the center of family dynamics, so it is difficult for them to understand that they did not cause the split of their parents. A clear, consistent and age-appropriate message is key to easing the transition in the family.

We should also clarify the final myth: the children will be just fine. The problem is that many parents believe that their children will be just fine regardless of how the divorce unfolds. Success for children after a divorce is more likely if parents make efforts to reduce the amount of conflict in a household before, during, and after a divorce.

Source: Huffington Post, “The Kids’ Will Be Just Fine And Other Divorce Myths,” Claire N. Barnes, Feb. 3, 2012

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