According to psychologist Ken Munyua, children of divorcees will either suffer for a while and recover, or the impact of the divorce will last into their adulthood.
Divorce is a stressful and traumatic event that leads to shame, anger, anxiety. It may also trigger profound loss as well fear of abandonment or guilt among children who were once close with their parents until now being left without them in some sort-of way but still living together for so long already – which creates depression too if there’s no resolution between themselves (the ex)and partner(s).
Divorcees sometimes feel like revenge seeking behavior because they want people involved either emotionally or financially after everything has been finalized; however this isn’t really fair since it puts an additional burden onto other family members such at grandparents raising grandchildren alone.
Effects of divorce on kids will also depend on the situation before the divorce. According to psychologist Lydiah Maina, children who are already in problematic homes prior to the divorce usually suffer more. In contrast, children whose parents argued or fought behind closed doors will take the shortest time to adjust to the divorce or separation. The more intense and frequent arguments and fights between parents, the more the children are likely to experience psychological problems after divorce. The risks are even more enormous among children who witness physical and verbal fights, and children who are regularly the reason why parents fight. “The child may feel they were the cause of the divorce. Such a child will blame himself for the divorce, and could escape home to avoid being the source of conflict,” says Lydiah.
Divorce is always difficult, but it can be doubly so for parents who have to explain their decision or reasons behind the split. This makes them feel like they’re making an admission that’s dirty and shameful. They don’t want to burden children with these things for fear of further hurting them in return – even though offering some form explanation may help both parties heal at different paces.
Sometimes what feels awkward becomes natural over time; however, other times we find ourselves stuck remembering why something happened long after its occurrence because our deeper selves are still processing all sorts emotions around this major life change up until now.
According to Munyua, it is critical for parents to reassure their kids that the divorce or separation will not injure parental care, love, emotional, social, and physical development.
“You don’t have to stay together for the sake of the kids, especially when your emotional and physical wellbeing is at risk. This will build hate and spite. But you can choose an explanation that is comprehensible to the child about why the two of you can no longer be together as husband and wife,” says Munyua. You don’t have to disclose the intimate details of the divorce to your children. Also, avoid the temptation to mudsling one parent during the explanation.
According to Munyua, some of the effects of a parents’ divorce on children include
- Loss and identity crisis: The child fails to establish her identity as she would with both parents as the contribution of one parent to her development is cut.
- Depression: This might be exhibited through a lack of appetite, sleep disturbances like waking with a start deep in the night.
- Emotional imbalance: Includes unexplainable anxiety, worry, irritability, and incessant crying.
- Behavioral deficiencies: The child becomes rebellious, too aggressive towards siblings, friends, or even classmates.
- Poor academic performance: The child’s showing in school regresses. She also begins to have discipline troubles.
- Relationship problems: In adulthood, the young one might have more dating, courting, or marital relationship problems.
Helping your child cope
- Get involved: Participate in your child’s development, ensuring that she or he understands that you are still his/ her parent. If your child is older, she may need to know why you had to divorce. However, even as you explain, observe ethics by resisting the urge to go into details and, or portray your ex-partner in a bad light.
- Show your child love and affection: Most children believe that they are the cause of their parents’ separation and need to hear from you, clearly, that they are not the reason why you had to divorce.
- Keep and follow a routine: Your child will feel more secure if there is a standard routine around her. For instance, keep the bedtime as you did previously or have some consistent chores for them.
- Respect your ex-partner: Note that it is the both of you who have divorced and not your child and her father. If possible, maintain respect for him, aware that he matters in a large way to the child.