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What goes through a child’s mind during divorce?

But… what about the kids?

I am sure this question has popped up in your mind and also during discussions or arguments before deciding if you should or shouldn’t get a divorce.

No matter how difficult your marriage has become, I am sure your children’s wellbeing must be one of your top priorities (as they should). Even though the process might be hard, keep in mind every child will react differently to hearing the news and the whole process that will ensue.

So, his post is not to dissuade you about getting a divorce, just to prepare you for what might be coming along your way.

But what about the kids?

Unsurprisingly, the most negative effects on children are not developed from the divorce itself, but from constant stress from witnessing their parent’s constant arguing.

Attorney at law magazine sets it very clearly:

Some children don’t find the separation of the parents the hardest part to cope with, in fact, some find that the most difficult part when it comes to dealing with divorce is the stress that accompany it.

A lot of stressful, inconvenient situations may drop in their laps such as changing schools, moving or changing homes and living with one parent who is more high-strung now with more responsibility, and lack of appearances from the other. This stress can greatly affect the child’s mental health.

It’s important to point out that not all children are the same, nor will they react the same way. Depending on their age range, they will find some things more difficult than others, as Rachel Brooks puts it:

  • Little children struggle with new living arrangements, as it is difficult for them to understand why they must now divide their lives and belongings between two homes. They also fear that if their parents no longer love each other, could their parents, possibly, stop loving them?
  • Middle school-aged children carry the burden of the divorce on their shoulders. They often believe they caused it, perhaps by misbehaving or doing something wrong. They convince themselves the divorce is their fault.
  • Teenagers probably take the hit the hardest. They start angry over the divorce and the effect it has on their lives. A teenager may point fingers and place blame on one parent rather than the other for causing the divorce. They may resent one or both parents for the emotional turmoil brought into the family.

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Changes in their relationships with both parents

One of the key causes for many of these reactions will have to do with changes in a child’s relationship with both parents. On one hand, they will no longer live with one of them, and keeping a normal bond will take some effort on both parts (if we look at it optimistically).

The other parent might be overwhelmed with doing many of the tasks done by two, be the object of guilt and anger for the separation, etc.

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Poor Performance in Academics

Experts agree that poor performance in school is an expected reaction to divorce. However, children might respond better if they do not find themselves blind-sided by their parents’ divorce. So, when you talk to your children, make sure to make it in advance so they can cope with it in the best way possible.

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Increase in risky behavior

Children of divorced parents show a tendency to indulge on risky behaviors. Shoplifting, consuming drugs or alcohol and even starting sexual activity early on.

Emotionally Sensitive – with feelings of anger and guilt

The transition from being a family to another can stir up a lot of emotions in children and can even overwhelm them. They might feel loss, anger, confusion, anxiety, and many other emotions. They will need an outlet to process all these new arrangements and information, so many experts recommend therapy.

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Increase in Health Problems

Like any stressful new situation, divorce can carry its toll on a child’s health. Children who have experienced divorce might have a higher perceptibility of sickness and even difficulty sleeping.

The Increase of Mental Health risks

Brooks paints a very clear picture:

Children, from a young age to adolescence are more likely to suffer from mental illness after divorce. Divorce plays a huge role in the increased psychological problems children encounter, regardless of their age, gender or culture, any child with divorced parents is affected mentally.


No matter how well-intentioned and carefully and lovingly you take on the task of going through a divorce, always keep in mind that it will be easy for no one. Your children will struggle no matter what.

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Charlotte Christian did an outstanding job handling my complicated divorce. I could not of asked for a better outcome. Knowledgable and professional attorney providing exceptional service.