How Do Children React to Divorce?

Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP

High Conflict Divorce Course

How Do Children React to Divorce? Divorce is a difficult time for families. Navigating this new way of life is not only difficult for the parents, but the children too.  Every child is different and, therefore has a different reaction to divorce. Some children react nonchalant and others struggle with transitioning to this new way of life. There is a plethora of psychological and behavioral effects that divorce can pose on children of all ages. In this article we have outlined the most common effects divorce has on children. To find out more, consider taking our High Conflict Parenting Course or one of our Parenting Education Family Stabilization Courses for Florida, Georgia, or Texas.

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Mental Health Problems

Divorce can make children more susceptible to mental health issues. Mental health issues do not discriminate against age, gender, culture, etc., A very common risk for children of divorced parents is the onset of mental health issues. Be aware that a lot of these psychological issues might stem from adjustment disorders that can be mitigated within a few months if treated properly.

Engaging in Risk-Taking Behaviors

Children that have endured a divorce in their family are a lot more likely to engage in risky behaviors. These risky behaviors might include early alcohol/ drug abuse or sexual activity. Research studies show that children with divorced parents are significantly more likely to become sexually active before age 16. When a child rebels by engaging in risk-taking behaviors, this can severely harm a child’s health.

Loss of Interest in Social Activities

Divorce does not only affect children emotionally, but socially as well. Children with parents going through a divorce finding it harder to relate to other children and thus, begin to isolate themselves from their peers.

Guilty Feelings

Sometimes, it can be hard for children to comprehend divorce. It is hard for children to grasp the reason for the divorce. This in turn, can create feelings of guilt in the children. Children start to feel like they might have been a factor in their parent’s divorce. They might start to ask themselves, “What did I do wrong?” Children might start to ruminate on the divorce and lead to many other mental health issues, like depression, anxiety, and stress.

Losing Faith in Marriage and Family Structure

Research shows that children exposed to divorce are more likely to get divorced in their future marriage. Some research suggests that the divorce likelihood in these children is two to three times more likely to get divorced in future relationships than children with non-divorced parents.

Divorce might feel like the end of the world for some children, but this is a small obstacle that they can bounce back from. Through the right high-conflict divorce education, parents can learn to navigate this stressful time. With the proper training and resources, parents can learn how they can best meet their children’s needs. At D’Arienzo Psychology, we have compiled a High-Conflict Divorce and Co-Parenting Course to help parents that are going through or recently underwent a divorce.