What Are The Key Ways Children Are Affected During A Divorce?
Divorce affects children directly. They experience a loss of security, feelings of abandonment and low self esteem. In some cases there can be some issues of domestic violence. There is also fear and/or reality of a loss or diminished relationship with one parent and exposure to high conflict between parents.
Children crave a stable and predictable environment, one home with intact parental relationships. When a relationship between parents dissolves, leading to separation and divorce a child’s world and sense of security, stability and predictability shatters. Parents’ divorce and the child’s world dissolves. Perhaps, forever.
Many children blame themselves at least partially, for their parents’ break up and divorce and feel at the same time that they were not important enough for the parents to work out their differences and stay together.
A side product of a divorce, especially one that is contentious, is that a child no longer lives with both parents. The child resides with one parent and “visits” with the other. This is major loss for both a child and the parent who moves out. The non-primary parent is seen either in a diminished light of importance and power or is recognized as a friend with whom to spend an afternoon or an evening of fun. In the absence (often for very good reasons) of meaningful shared access time a child’s visiting schedule results in the loss of a parent or a marginal relationship which is extremely traumatic, no matter the circumstances.
Finally, very few divorcing or divorced couples are able to contain the expression of hostility towards the other spouse. Hostilities are often expressed in the presence of a child, subtly or outright! In either case, a child is placed in the line of fire and often made to choose sides or be a peace maker. Either position leads to long standing consequences in the emotional and social development of the child.