What Are the Effects of
Divorce on Children?

I don’t know a thing about you, but I’m willing to bet that you’re worried about the effects of divorce on children because you or your spouse is seriously considering ending your marriage...but you don't want to hurt your children.

When making the difficult decision of whether or not to get a divorce, there are several very important factors you need to keep in mind when it comes to your children’s welfare.

Since most couples tend to focus on their own needs and their own hurt during a divorce, more often than not, their child’s needs suddenly become ‘secondary’. The tips in this article will help you understand the effects of divorce on children and help you keep your children’s best interest in mind.

The Effects of Divorce on Children – What to Expect

When you first “break the news” to your child, their initial reaction might vary from extreme anger, to sadness, to drawing an immediate conclusion that their parents’ breakup is their fault. One of the most damaging effects of divorce on children is the different “outlets” they turn to in an effort to deal with their hurt and pain.

Unfortunately, one of these “outlets” is…drugs.

Kids use drugs to cover up the emotional pain they’re feeling as a result of the troubling events that led to the divorce. This often leads to poor grades in school and even can result in the child dropping out of school completely.

But aside from those “physical” effects of divorce, there are many damaging emotional side effects that your children will carry with them for the rest of their lives. For instance, studies have proven that one of the most common emotional effects of divorce on children has been low self-esteem.

This lack of self-esteem carries into their adult lives and leads to many unpleasant side effects like troubled relationships, difficulties finding a job and marital troubles.

Other effects of divorce on children include:

  • Self-blame or guilt; feeling responsible for parental problems
  • Alcohol use, or other self-destructive behavior
  • Feelings of abandonment
  • Sadness, and even suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, and/or activities
  • Anger (at self and others), rage or even violent behavior
  • Acting out, defiance and limit-testing behavior
  • Sexual activity

Side note: I have seen first-hand; the devastating effect of divorce on children in their adult life. I coach these “children” (who are now adults) every day.

And every one of them has openly admitted that ever since their parents got divorced, their life was never the same. They often tell me that for their whole life, they have been searching for “a sense of stability in the midst of chaos.”

And that is EXACTLY what children need...stability. But where can kids find a sense of stability in divorce? Nowhere! As if that isn’t enough, children are often faced with what they view as a “replacement” for their mom or dad, should one of them decide to re-marry.

Their life then continues to get worse when they become faced with “new” brothers and sisters or even a new baby that gets all the attention.

If after reading this, you (or your spouse) still decides to get a divorce anyway...

Here Are Some Simple Rules to Follow if
You Want to Minimize the Damaging
Effects of Divorce on Your Children

Rule # 1: Understand that the extent of the damage really depends on YOU. Although it’s easy to get carried away with your emotions when going through a divorce, you MUST keep your children out of it!

Under no circumstances, should you say negative things about your children’s father/mother in front of your child. You are their role model.

Your child will mimic your behavior when they grow up. If you criticize your spouse in front of your child, they’ll see this as an acceptable way to treat their spouse when they get married.

Rule # 2: Tell your children what is going to change in their life and try to answer all their questions ahead of time. (Encourage them to ask questions in the future also.)

Your children will want to know what is going to be different in their life. Here are some ideas to get you started...

  • Let them know where they will be living. Will they attend the same school, move to a different house, where will daddy (or mommy) be moving to and when?

  • Make every effort to convince your children that this divorce is NOT THEIR FAULT. This is very important. If you don’t make this clear to them, there’s a very real possibility, especially for your emotionally sensitive kids, that they will blame themselves for your divorce.

  • Even if they are NOT going to be separated from their brothers or sisters, LET THEM KNOW IT. They could quickly jump to conclusions and relay the wrong message to their siblings leading to unnecessary confusion or conflict.

  • Give them a reason why you’re getting divorced. This is the first question that pops up in their mind, so it is important that you give them a reason. Be sure to do this without pointing fingers at your spouse or arguing in front of your children.

Make no mistake about it; following these tips will reduce the damaging effects of divorce on your children, but it will certainly not eliminate those effects altogether.

The best thing you can do for your children right now is to stop your divorce stop your divorce and keep your family together.

Marriage counselors
are not the only option. There are ways to stop your divorce with or without your spouse's participation. I am living proof it only takes one to heal a marriage and my students who work with me prove it each and every day. Don’t give up hope. I’ve seen couples in the most difficult circumstances save their marriage including...

  • Extra-marital affairs
  • Midlife Crisis
  • Lack of intimacy
  • Fallen out of love
  • Excessive fighting
  • Ineffective or not enough communication
  • Not enough quality time because of busy schedules
  • Children issues
  • Unresolved conflicts
  • And many more complex and difficult situations

The damaging effects of divorce on children are just too great to simply get a divorce without giving your marriage a second chance.

But don’t take my word it, if you want to know the cold, hard facts about the effects of divorce on children - from trusted and credible sources - just read the following article:
18 Shocking Statistics About Children and Divorce. You’ll get detailed information from credible sources about what happens to children long after a divorce is finalized.