When any relationship ends it can be a difficult time – especially if children are involved. Every family member will be undergoing many changes and will need to learn how to adjust to their new way of life.
Children can be impacted by their parents splitting up in a variety of different ways. Some children may react to the breakup in an understanding way, while others may struggle with the transition to their “new normal”.
For some couples, the fear of how a divorce or separation may impact their children can lead to them staying together for the “sake of their kids”. However, while divorce can be upsetting and hard for children to accept, for some families, it can also be the best option for them. Divorce and separation not only have an impact on the wellbeing of children, but so to does living in a home where their parents are arguing and conflict is present.
Whether you’re currently navigating your way through a separation or divorce or it’s something you and your partner have discussed, the effects it may have on your children are most likely at the front of mind.
As every child and every family circumstance is different, the way divorce can affect children can vary significantly. To help, we’ve put together some information regarding how divorce can change a child’s life, as well as the effects these changes might have, and the steps you can take to make these changes easier for your children.
How do children tend to react to the news of a divorce or separation?
It is not uncommon for children to struggle with their feelings and their behaviours when their parents separate or when they first learn of their parents plans to separate.
Many different factors, like their age and development stage, the family dynamics, quality of parenting, and degree of hostility in the home, can affect the way a child reacts to the split of their parents.
When kids are young, particularly around pre-school to early primary school ages, they do not usually understand the notion of divorce and find it difficult to accept that they may need to go between two different homes. Kids this age may also worry that their parents may stop loving them or feel at fault for their parents no longer being together.
Slightly older children, who may be in the higher years of primary school or early high school might have fears of abandonment, especially if they didn’t notice too much conflict between their parents. It’s also not uncommon for kids this age to want to repair their parents’ relationship, or even want to blame someone for the split – with resentment being projected towards the parents or one of the parents.
The way a teenager reacts can also vary significantly, from being accepting to feelings of extreme anger. This anger may be directed towards one parent, both parents, and may manifest into poor behaviours.
Unfortunately, there is no one answer to how a child will take the news of their parents separating.
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