The good news: The vast majority of children are perfectly fine. Some experience a few bumps in the road – but with the right parental attention and, in some cases, counseling or therapy, they’re fine, too.
So what are the long-term effects of divorce on children, and how can you help them through this new phase of their lives? Here’s what you need to know.
Related: Divorce and children
The Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children
Researches have extensively studied the short- and long-term effects that divorce has on kids. The bottom line is that parents who actively try to minimize stresses on their children see more favorable outcomes than those who don’t.
In many cases, divorce is the best choice – not just for the parents, but for the children, as well. That’s because it’s far healthier to raise your children separately (or even on your own) than it is for them to watch a toxic relationship in action. When parents are unhappy, it’s contagious… even when parents think they’re doing a good job of covering it up.
The fact is, too, that more than 40 percent of all marriages end in divorce. When children are younger – still in their formative years – divorce’s effects can be more long-lasting. Research shows that kids of parents who successfully reestablish themselves, either on their own or within a new marriage, can improve children’s quality of life.
Related: 11 good divorce books for kids
But the bottom line is that conflict between parents is what causes the issues kids experience in the first place. For some parents, that conflict sticks around after divorce (sometimes even years later) – and that’s what’s detrimental to kids.
Related: What is co-parenting?
What You Can Do to Minimize the Effects of Divorce on Your Kids
Simply being there for your children and minimizing the amount of conflict they see between you and your spouse can have tremendous positive effects on them. Seeking help immediately when you see signs of trouble is absolutely essential (you can ask your Stockton divorce lawyer for advice on choosing a therapist, too).
You can help your kids in other ways, too, and minimize the long-term effects of your marital break-up by:
- Keeping your children on a steady, reliable routine – even if they’re older.
- Confining negativity to your own therapy sessions or chats with your friends when your children can’t hear.
- Staying involved in your kids’ lives, and insisting that your ex do the same.
Five Things Your Child Wants You to Know During Divorce
Your kids might struggle to put these things into words, but this is what they want you to know:
- Don’t say mean things about my other parent. I love you both, and you’re both important to me – and when one of you criticizes the other, I feel defensive and can get angry at the parent who’s saying mean things.
- Don’t use me as a messenger. My job is to be a kid, not a courier, and if you have to communicate with my other parent, it’s up to you to call, text or email him or her.
- Find a counselor you can talk to if you don’t have other adults in your circle – don’t tell me your stresses or your problems, because I need you to parent me… I can’t be your parent.
- Remember that I have to move every few days to see you or my other parent, and that’s not easy. My whole world is different, and it’s going to take me some time to adjust. If you want me to feel like I live in both places, please help me make them both my own – I need toothbrushes, clothes, toys and my favorite foods so I don’t feel like I’m just visiting.
- Don’t try to win me over with bribes. Even if I’m young, I can see through them – and even worse, they can damage my relationship with you and my other parent.
Do You Need to Learn More About the Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children, or About Getting a Divorce in California?
If you need to know more about divorce in California, we may be able to help you. Call us at (209) 546-6870 to schedule a consultation with divorce attorney Anna Maples. We’ll answer your questions about child custody, child support and other matters, as well as refer you to local professionals if you need help that we can’t provide, such as divorce counseling or asset management.