How does Divorce affect young children?
The effect of divorce on children depends on the age of the children at the time when the divorce is taking place, the gender of the child, and the characters of a child. Other minor factors that may determine the level of affection is the degree of conflict between the two parents, and the amount of support received from other relatives and close friends. For instance, if a child is in infant age, they may not understand the conflict between the parents (Knox and Schacht 279).
The effect of an infant may occur because of the changes in parents reactions and the time dedicate to him. The major effect on the infant is realized when he or she start loosing appetite due to the change of moods of the parents. The infant may also experience some stomach upsets, and start drooling.
For the preschool children who age between 3-5 years, they believe they are the causes of divorce in most cases. In several researches done they say that their failure to do house chores or to take their dinner made their mummy or daddy to run away.
Once parents divorce these preschool children start fearing because of feeling lonely, as they think that, their parents abandon them. The feeling of being abandoned make these children to show some baby like behaviors, through claiming their old toys, and some will even start wetting the bed even if they had stopped (Weiten, Lloyd and Yost 546).
Some children show some funny behaviors like denying that something has happened to their parents, some become uncooperative to the people looking after them, and some experiences an increased level of anger and stress. They feel comfortable when near an adult where there is assurance of security, but at the same time, they show some sense of aggressiveness.
Getting used to parental divorce by school-aged children is more difficult than for the preschool children or even the mature children. The school going age have the capability to understand that they are subject to suffering out of their parental divorce. Their age does not allow a control measure of this pain and perception that they will suffer.
They are too young to cope with this type of internal pain (Ahrons 98). The greatest effect of divorce to these children is experiencing misery, humiliation, divided love, and high anger.
Some psychologists have said that these children can forget these divorce issues through active participation in play and activities with other children of the same age.
Active participation of their bodies and mind would eliminate idleness and a chance of deep thoughts. These children of this age have the capability of hoping that their parents will rejoin again.
Another common effect of divorce to the children of this age is feeling of rejection by their parents and may be start complaining of constant headaches and stomach upsets.
Teenagers suffer greatly among all other groups when parental divorce occurs. Most of the time, when faced by challenges, teenagers become angry, and at the same time they start fearing and feeling lonely.
Even if they are not the cause of the problems, they feel guilt and having a stressing moment. Teenagers are mostly disturbed when the divorced parent gives them the responsibilities of adult people; they start feeling as if they that is not their duties because they are still young.
This situation forces them to undertake the responsibilities of their parents like cooking chores and looking after the smaller siblings. Teenagers make extra efforts of responding to the low motivation of their parents, and coping up with the increased stress of their parents.
They take control over several issues in the family from taking care of the parents to even domestic animals. Teenagers have highly emerging sexual feelings, and they feel lack of enough knowledge and support that is supposed to come from the parents.
This is a very crucial stage to the teenagers as they start doubting marriage life when they witness such behaviors. Some teenagers make decisions of staying unmarried if they witness such separations from their own parents.
Teenagers try as much as possible to understand the reasons behind their parental divorce, although this turns to be a very stressing moment they try to cope up with it. Sometimes they may absorb that shock of loneliness, but their capability of mind to remember the events occurrence spoils them a great deal by making them peace less for a long time before they adjust fully (Clarke and Brentano 104).
They try as much as possible to battle in their minds in an effort of determining one parent who is the cause of the divorce. They feel much pressure placed on them in the process of determining the troubleshooter and the reasons behind the whole process.
In terms of gender, some psychologists have proved that boys who grow with the presence of their fathers and girls by their mothers may have the ability to handle this better than children brought up by a person of opposite sex. A male child who has grown with the presence of their fathers are not very hostile, and they are in a better position as far as handling challenges is concerned, than those who grew with the presence of their mothers alone.
The girls who grow with close supervision of their mothers grow up being responsible and showing behaviors of a fully-grown adult. The ability of a child to cope with the effects of their parents divorce depends on the relationship between the parents and their children. The gender and the stage of the child also matters but not as much as the relationship in the family.
According to another group of psychologists, they claim that even if a child is mature, parental divorce is very stressing for any child.
The fact that they do not prepare for that divorce in advance makes it hard for them to bear. According to the research done by specialists, they say that less than 11% of the children receive some support from family friends and relatives during this tempting moment in the family. The amount of pain that these children go through comes from different sources (Brown 11).
To begin with, when parents divorce and separate, the children start feeling insecure in various ways. The parent may be psychologically prepared to divorce because they may be experiencing such problems for a long period, but this reaches their children in surprise making them mourn and grief for a long time.
In most cases, divorce changes the family set up where some members find themselves in a different status whereby they are have to move from the usual family place. This change of family arrangement brings much grieve and a feeling of being powerless to both the children and the parent who has moved away.
People in the society do not see any need of supporting children of the divorced parent as they do to the bereaved families (Sember 102). They take this as a normal process of life that does not require an external assistance. They refer this as irresponsibility of the both parents, which they ignore and cannot take it seriously.
On the other side, parents do not seek the assistance of their children because of fear of intimidation. Among the children who are preschoolers, may be a serious case where even sleeping becomes a challenge. Their fear may extend for a long time when they lack the custodial parent, because they do not understand how and when that divorce will end.
They tend to think the end of the world has come that they knew of happiness, protection, and love. This age is complicated because even the parents cannot explain to their child about their divorce. Even if they try to explain to these young children may not understand why their parents are behaving in such a reluctant manner.
For the children between the ages of 6-8 years their fear is worse because of that separation. The fact that divorce may be permanent disturbs them a lot and they keep on asking some nagging questions about when mummy or daddy will come back.
Bearing this hard situation with the children of this age becomes unbearable as the only topic that they would like to discuss with the left parent is that one and not any other. Sometimes they even tend to threaten the left parent that they will not attend the school unless they see the other parent.
While in school, they claim that other children are laughing at him or her after realizing that their parents are no longer together (Smoke 123). The children between the age of 8-11 years stay in uncomfortable mood by the fact that, they have to bear the hard situations with their parents.
These children end up not saying their needs because they do not want to overburden the left parent with problems. At this point, they suffer the loss of parental love, and lack of sharing their problems and reporting their needs.
The worst age of children witnessing the parental divorce is the age between 12-18years. In several cases, out of fear and anger they sit down and start discussing the reasons behind their parents’ separation. They start acting as judges as they try to determine who the cause of the divorce was, and what will happen to the custodial mother.
Some have worried too much, about what would be the results of the divorce to an extent of committing suicide and others hating their parents for a lifetime.
The struggle that a child would go through during and after the divorce has a great effect on that child after life. At the age of 18 years, a child may start acting in a different way as the whole perception of marriage life changes to him (Sember 108).
Some parents behave aggressively towards their divorce, and this makes their children to start adopting the wrong side of the behaviors. The life after divorce is hard and calls for much care because if children will be left to suffer by an irresponsible parent, this will be a double trouble.
In conclusion, many young children have suffered globally due to parental divorce. After divorce, the custodial parent feels overburdened, and in return, she delegates most of her duties to her children. The house has many chores, and the custodial mother is still working to look for more sources of income (Brown 8).
Most of the time, the teenage children are left with many house chores to cater for. Some parents have proved to act irresponsibly after divorce making their lovely children to suffer. Children who were born out of love, their parents are not supposed to abandon them to suffer due to their divorce. These children are innocent, and have the right to a good life full of love.
Ahrons, Constance. We are still family: What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parents Divorce. London: HarperCollins, 2005.
Brown, Waln. Effects of Divorce on Children. London: William Gladden Foundation, 2003.
Clarke, Alison and Cornelia Brentano. Divorce: Causes and Consequences. New York: Yale University Press, 2007.
Knox, David and Caroline Schacht. Choices in ralationships: An introduction to marriage and the family. New York: Cengage Learning, 2009.
Sember, Brette. The Complete Divorce Handbook. Oxford: Sterling Publishing Company, Inc, 2009.
Smoke, Jim. Growing Through Divorce. New York: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.
Weiten, Wayne, Margaret Lloyd and Elizabeth Yost. Psychology Applied to Modern LIfe: Adjustment in the 21st Century. New York: Cengage Learning, 2008.