Parents understand that divorce is hard for children, which is part of the reason why those with young children still living at home often explore every means of preserving their marital relationships. They don’t want to damage the social and emotional development of their children unless they truly have no other option.
Thankfully, when parents do decide to divorce, they have the power to make choices that can potentially reduce how damaging the process will ultimately be for their children. These are some of the potential negative side effects that parents can seek to minimize by approaching their divorce with caution and consideration of their children’s needs.
Mental health challenges, like depression
It is quite common for children to struggle with their mental health for the first time in their lives when their parents decide to divorce. Those who already had symptoms of depression or anxiety may develop worsening symptoms or new symptoms. The destabilization of their home life may lead to difficulty managing stress and emotional outbursts at home and at school. For older children, like teenagers, divorce may lead to substance abuse as a means of self-medicating.
Many children experience a dip in academic performance following their parents’ separation or divorce. They may have attitude challenges or new behaviors that affect their performance in class. Their anger at feeling powerless at home may lead to them refusing to do their work. The impact can be bigger for teenagers and older students, as a dip in their grades might have an impact on employment and educational opportunities in the future.
Children and teenagers may have a hard time communicating with their peers about the challenges they face when their parents separate. In many cases, such as when parents have to sell their home, the children may end up moving into a completely different school district and experiencing social challenges. Previously social and personable young adults may have a hard time connecting with people after their family circumstances change, which can affect their ability to heal and process the feelings that they have as a result of the divorce.
Parents can help shield their children from that stress by trying to limit how much conflict the children witness and by making life as stable as possible after post-divorce. Approaching the divorce process with a focus on keeping the children as healthy and happy as possible may help parents limit any lasting repercussions stemming from their decision to divorce.