Marriage is not always a walk in the park, and sometimes the negative cycles/patterns can feel overwhelming for a couple, resulting in divorce. Although divorce may be necessary for the physical or mental health of an individual, it can be cause long-term effects on children. This is likely because young children struggle to understand what is occurring, and why they must travel from one home to another. It could also illuminate to the child that if their parents stopped loving each other, then they may stop loving them one day as well. When the child is a bit older they may feel angry about the divorce and blame one parent, causing resentment and separation in the family.
All the changes that occur as a result of the divorce can add stress to the child’s life, such as new schools, new homes, or living with a single parent. In addition, new stepparents, stepsiblings, or halfsiblings can be a huge adjustment for children, as they get acclimated to their new environment. This may lead to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety which are found to be higher among children with divorced parents (Morin & Snyder 2021). It can also lead to conduct disorders, delinquency, and conflicts with peers as they struggle to cope with their fragmented family. Although it is important to acknowledge negative effects of divorce on children, it is also important to understand that sometimes divorce is necessary. This can be said when one’s physical or mental well-being is at risk because of highly volatile marital relationships.
We do not want to halt the process of divorce between a couple if it is absolutely necessary for their well-being, however we aim to educate each pair on the consequences that may arise if occurring around children. The reason behind these concerns stems from the fact that young children are still developing, and their surrounding environment leads to the outcome of their behavior. Children that find themselves in a negative atmosphere or lack support, tend to form behaviors that are harmful or undesirable. Due to their affected child development, they may gain unhealthy coping behaviors as they grow older such as excessive alcohol consumption, drug abuse, promiscuous, and other risky behaviors.
Although divorce may lead to negative effects on children, there are ways to decrease undesirable behavior or stress by exercising co-parenting behaviors, avoiding triangulations with your children, maintaining healthy relationships, teaching coping skills, and helping empower and protect them. It is important to monitor your child in response to a hostile environment which may include arguing or yelling, and seek help for the child depending on their mental and emotional state.