Divorce itself does not harm children; it’s the intensity and duration of the conflict between parents that causes negative impacts on children’s adjustments. Children’s behaviors are likely to change as a normal response to divorce. However, a divorce does affect children’s behavior and their reaction varies widely which depends on many factors, especially age. Parents who are having a divorce usually do not know what is best for their children. They exhibit it to be negative behaviors. Divorce is definitely a Life-Transforming Experience. Childhood is different after a divorce. The whole trajectory of an individual’s life is profoundly altered by the divorce experience, whether the outcome is good or bad. Divorce itself does not affect the children in a negative way, but it’s outcome does. The following information tells how divorce affects children:
Newborn to 6 months- How Divorce Affects Children
One of a child’s primary developmental tasks, in infancy is to learn how to trust. Babies need a lot of attention, care, nurturing and admiration from their parents. Parents should try not to fight in front of their babies. Young babies may exhibit the change in their habits of sleeping and eat as a reaction to the change.
18 months to 3 years- How Divorce Affects Children
Children in this age group continue needing consistency in parenting, environments, caregivers, and routines. Gradually, they become more independent and begin testing their limits. They need to learn about self-control without losing self-esteem, and they need to learn to deal with doubt and shame. Parents need to frequently communicate about the child’s needs and if there is any change in the child’s behavior. If in case the toddler is being exchanged from home to home, the parents need to make sure that the child always has photos and special mementos as reminders of the absent parent.
3 to 5 years-
Self – motivation and how to overcome guilt and develop their own identities is the development task for children in this age. In a kind, the understanding way their parents need to set safe limits for them. Children at this age fear being abandoned or rejected. They also develop imagination and fantasies. During the time of divorce, their fears and fantasies translate into insecurity about their own lovability. They may get feelings like their parents got divorced because they did something wrong or bad or because they were not good enough. Children at this stage may react to divorce by regressing their sleeping, eating, toilet habits and their talking. They may be very clingy and find it difficult from going to one parent to another. They may get aggressive in their activity and play, or more withdrawn. The parents need to be punctual when exchanging the child. They need to avoid to jump to conclusions about the stories the child is telling.
6 to 8 years-
When the parents of this age group’s children’s get divorced, the children have a strong yearning for the absent parent. They feel torn inside when their parents fight. The children at this stage react to divorce with deep sadness, which may be revealed in crying and withdrawal.
9 to 12 years-
The children may feel ashamed or embarrassed by the divorce at this stage. They may experience somatic symptoms like a headache, stomach pain, fatigue and generally feeling out of sorts. They may experience intense feelings of anger. They may have difficulties with their peers and their academic performance would also drop.
Teenagers – 13-18-
Some children at this age take on the responsibility of the absent parent and side with the parent who is present. The children of this age group react to divorce by feeling insecure about their own relationships. They often fear that they won’t be able to have a happy marriage.
Some years back an author had asked herself how divorce affects children. She even wrote a book on that subject. Through her book, it’s known that divorce leaves children to struggle for a lifetime with the effects of the decision their parents made.Tags: How Divorce Affects Children