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How Does Divorce Impact Children Psychologically?

Change is never easy, especially when it permanently alters your life, and divorce is one of those things that will undoubtedly change your circumstances. While a divorce can be healthy for everyone involved, it still makes an impact on their psyches. Unfortunately, this is most true for children who go through the divorce process.

However, at Epperson Law Group, we believe knowledge is power. Therefore, we have created this blog post to help you identify the potential psychological impact your divorce will have on your children. After reading this post, we hope you will be more informed to help your kids through this trying time.

Divorce & a Child’s Psyche

From a statistical standpoint, a divorce is going to impact a child’s psyche negatively. To substantiate this claim, we will look at a variety of statistics concerning divorce and a child’s mind.

Emotional Impact

Children of divorce are emotionally impacted by the process regardless of the circumstances.

General Emotional Impact

Here are some statistics concerning a child’s emotional health after a divorce:

  • Children of divorce have more emotional and behavioral problems, negative feelings, and less psychological well-being than children from intact families.
  • Divorce is associated with an increased risk of children developing the following mental health issues: depression, aggression, ADD/ADHD, isolation.
  • Divorce is associated with an increased risk of children developing the following mood disorders: bipolar I disorder, mild chronic depression, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder.

Children will react to the news of divorce in a variety of ways. In fact, studies show that divorce can drastically alter a child’s typical outlook on live: forever shifting their mannerisms and personalities.

Here is a list of one or more emotions children may face after finding out the news of a parent’s divorce:

  • Sadness;
  • Anger;
  • Loneliness;
  • Anxiety;
  • Lowered satisfaction;
  • Lowered self-esteem;
  • Lowered self-confidence;
  • Fear;
  • Longing/yearning;
  • Rejection;
  • Conflict (stemming from pressure to “choose sides” between parents);
  • Guilt (stemming from imagined inadequacy that “causes” the divorce).

Divorce & Kids’ Emotions

When learning of a divorce, younger children will often psychologically and emotionally “regress.” This regression can result in bedwetting, throwing tantrums, and infant-like tendencies. Overall, boys and girls who face divorce are prone to cling to their parents unhealthily. It’s interesting to note that boys of parental divorce are more emotionally disturbed than their female counterparts and more likely to develop depression than girls who face divorce.

Divorce & Teens’ Emotions

Older children (between the ages of 12 and 15) typically respond to divorce in one of two ways.

On the one hand, teens of divorce may attempt to “speed through adolescence.” In this scenario, teens attempt to handle the divorce through “self-willed maturity.” Rather than allow themselves to process the divorce emotionally, they take on more problems to prove to others (and themselves) that the divorce doesn’t affect them. This can lead to emotional suppression and unhealthy coping habits like sex, drugs, alcoholism, or becoming a workaholic.

On the other hand, teens of divorce may attempt to avoid adulthood and responsibility. In this scenario, teens attempt to handle divorce by avoiding life’s emotional challenges. Rather than allow themselves to process the divorce emotionally, they use escapism to avoid dealing with it. This can lead to dysfunctional relationship building as they seek unhealthy dependence on friends and significant others.

It is important to note that highly dysfunctional families cause children to have antisocial behaviors. Therefore, after a highly dysfunctional family divorce, the kids’ antisocial behaviors will decrease.

Educational Impact

Divorce impacts a child’s education in a variety of ways.

Here are some of the statistics concerning a child’s education after a divorce:

  • Kids of divorce are three times more likely to repeat a year of school due to poor performance when compared to children with two biological or adoptive parents;
  • Kids of divorce immediately begin performing worse academically than their peers from intact families;
  • On average, kids of divorce have 11% lower GPAs than those from divorced families;
  • At 13, the average difference between the reading ability of a child of divorce and a child from an intact home is half a year;
  • Children of divorce are 26% more likely to drop out of secondary school than children raised in intact families;
  • 57% percent of children from intact families enter college, 47.5% of children from single-parent families enter college, and 32.5% of children in stepfamilies enter college.

Why Talk About This?

We don’t post these facts and statistics to scare you away from getting a divorce: it’s your choice and you deserve to make it. However, we do post these facts and statistics to keep you informed about how the divorce process will impact your children’s lives.

At Epperson Law Group, your family is our number one priority, which means we care about doing what’s best for you and your children. We want you to have every resource available to help you help your kids through this process and looking at the potential adverse outcomes helps you plan for the best possible result!

If you’re ready to talk to an attorney about your divorce, call (704) 200-9278 now for a free consultation!