The accepted wisdom is that one of the most challenging consequences of divorce is the disruption and upheaval it can bring about for the children of divorcing parents. Known effects of divorce on children are adjustment and behavioral problems resulting from long periods of stress and interrupted routines (children-and-divorce.com). Psychologist Carl Pickhardt, (U.S. News & World Report) said, “Obviously kids have a certain amount of despondency because of the loss – they’ve lost the intact family. …There’s usually some anger, because there’s been a violation. …How does the kid manage their despondency, their anxiety, their anger and their stress?”
Most researchers agree that it is the nature of the divorcing parents’ relationship that has the greatest impact on how poorly or how well their kids will navigate the inevitable emotions and adjustments that come with this major event in their lives. It is not the divorce itself that affects children negatively, but rather their feelings of uncertainty about what will happen after the divorce, the level of conflict between the parents and the nature of their relationships with their parents after the divorce. According to Pickhardt, parents must reconcile their emotional differences to create a workable relationship to provide stability for their children.
Results of a recent study are encouraging: these issues become easier to deal with after four to nine months, although parents must remain alert to signs of longer-term psychological issues. Children “may need informal support or therapy to prevent further progression of depressive symptoms and the development of more serious mental health problems,” said researcher Jennifer O’Loughlin, professor at the University of Montreal, in a statement.
Parents’ divorces also have an impact on their adult children, even after they have left home, according to AARP. Parents who “try to resolve the conflict instead of carrying it around like baggage ” teach their children that no relationship is without struggles, says Christine R. Keeports, a Ph.D. psychology student at Northern Illinois University, and “the kids are better off” in their own dealing with conflicts. AARP also interviewed Jenny Kutner, a millennial who has written about being a child of a later-life divorce. She “came to believe that all family members grieve a divorce, even if they don’t show it, and do so differently. …I was not outwardly upset because … I wouldn’t have been able to do my job, which is something as an adult I have to do.”
Kutner also noted that she and her sister unwillingly became “adult confidants” who served as a sounding board for both parents and provided emotional support for them. Instead, the experts advise, parents should do their best to resolve their conflicts by themselves, and make themselves accessible to listen and talk with their kids about the impact of the divorce.
The seasoned family law and divorce lawyers at the McGrath Law Firm, founded by attorney Peter McGrath, will walk you through every step of the challenging divorce process to address your concerns and achieve your goals as efficiently as possible. From spousal support, child support, fault, and equitable division of property and debt to valuations, pre-nuptial agreements, and restraining orders, the experienced attorneys at McGrath Law Firm have a successful track record in all aspects of divorce law. Call us to schedule your consultation at (800) 283-1380.