Divorce introduces a considerable change in child’s life, no matter if he is very young or if he is already an adolescent. Witnessing the loss of love between his parents, having his parents disregard their commitments to their family and to each other, being shuffled back and forth between two households can create a very difficult environment to live in. People respond differently to difficult situations, and this is also true for children. Here are some of the most likely impacts of divorce on a child’s welfare and development.
Dependence and Independence
When a young child goes through a divorce, the most likely impact is an increase in dependence. This is because at this age, his world is still very closely connected to his parents who are his favored companions and who they are heavily reliant on for basic care. On the other hand, when an adolescent experiences a divorce in his family, it tends to accelerate his independence and self-reliance. This is because the adolescent world is more self-sufficient and more divergent from his parents. Friends become the favored companions and his social life has, at this time, extended beyond his family life.
Stress and Physiologic Reactions
Children are more likely to have a healthier adjustment if their parents refrain from demonstrating conflict in front of them. When they are consistently exposed to the hostility that often comes with a divorce, they are exposed to higher levels of stress which can lead to physiologic reactions like a boost in cortisol levels. Increased cortisol levels, in turn, often lead to higher occurrences of anxiety, irritability, weight changes, and sleep problems.
When parents no longer love each other and decide to live apart, a child may feel like his whole world is turned upside down. He may feel a sense of loss since he is physically separated from one of his parents. He may feel angry at one or both parents for the breakdown of their relationship. He may also feel guilty that he is the cause for his parents’ separation. These feelings often worsen with the occurrence of other factors such as relocating or experiencing financial difficulties.