Divorce is a critical issue in marriages that involve children. The experience of divorce can affect a child negatively and can even destroy the child’s world. There are some factors that determine children’s adjustment to life after the separation of their parents. Some of these factors are:
- the quality of the relationship of the children with each of the parents before the determination of their marriage
- the duration as well as the intensity of the conflict of the parents
- the ability of the parents to provide for their needs during the divorce
Children have their unique ways of reacting to divorce depending their age and circumstances. Here are some typical experiences of children whose parents’ marital union have been terminated.
Feelings of abandonment
Children whose parents are legally separated normally worry about their needs. They are apprehensive that their needs will not be taken care. They may feel abandoned and rejected. The problem becomes worse when any of the parents or both of the parents discuss the issue with the children. Such discussion will make them to feel insecure. They are not sure of how their needs will be taken care of or what the future will be.
Feelings of divided loyalties
Children normally have the feelings of divided loyalties if any of the parents is not allowed to see or if they are not allowed to see any of the parents. The problem becomes worst if they are strongly attached to the parent that is not allowed to visit them. They may end up siding one parent when they grow up. If a child takes side with one parent, the feeling of divided loyalty can make some children to have strong hatred for the other parent not sided.
Preoccupation with information
Children whose parents’ marital union is terminated, most of the time try to obtain information about the situation of things at home, how the divorce will affect them, how bad their parents’ relationship is and similar things. There is therefore a need for a more age appropriate and unified communication from the parents.
This normally happens to younger children. They tend to deny the divorce by fantasizing a possible reconciliation of the parents. This experience normally manifests itself in form of storytelling. The children tell stories about how the parents will reconcile or how they will live next door to their father and things like that.
Anger and hostility
There is the tendency of children whose parents are separated to be hostile to other children and the siblings. The hostility can even be extended to the parents. The social relationship with other children is affected.
Poor school performance
There is the tendency for a child whose parents are separated to have low academic performance as a result of the situation of things at home. This is because divorce has some psychological effect on the children which makes it difficult for them to concentrate and listen to their children during classes. This is worst if child’s custody is not given to the parent that helps them with their homework.