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Divorce: How It Affects Children


Some parents are so concerned about the consequences that divorce can generate on their children’s mental health that they remain in unhappy marriages , believing that they will protect their children from some type of post-divorce trauma , but in the end they end up committing a serious error.

Children within the divorce

When parents divorce, most children feel that the world is falling apart , they feel that they lose identity as a family and that they will lose their relationship with one of their parents. This can create deep anguish and feelings of  insecurity and abandonment.

According to research conducted by University of Virginia psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington,  children suffer when moms and dads separate . In research they found that many children experience short-term negative effects from divorce, especially anxiety , anger, shock, and insecurity.

Studies state that only a small percentage of children experience serious problems from divorce or continue into adulthood.

Effects of Divorce on Children

Some of the symptoms that children experience as a result of their parents’ divorce are as follows:

  • Get sick more often and recover from illness more slowly
  • They are more likely to be abused or mistreated by children
  • They can become aggressive
  • They present anxiety and psychological distress
  • Are prone to panic attacks
  • They present emotional insecurity.
  • They present alterations in behavior and personality
  • They can have episodes of depression  and suffer stress
  • Changes in appetite and eating disorders
  • They tend to have low self-esteem
  • They may have sleep disorders such as insomnia
  • In adolescence, they can create addiction to different types of drugs and be involved in situations of violence, or be participants in criminal events.

Hostage children

A divorce can be a traumatic event for children if they act incorrectly. It is always preferable to separate before things get worse when there is a bad relationship.

When divorce happens on bad terms, in addition to all the paperwork and paperwork that it requires, it puts children in a very uncomfortable situation. Some parents choose to use their children to take advantage of the divorce, turning them against the other parent, forcing them to make things up about the other parent, even holding them hostage and preventing them from seeing their other parent. 

In some countries, the laws in favor of women allow them to take their children hostage without subsequent consequences, so much so that some choose to extort money from the other party by putting their children first, who end up being victims of their parents. There are also the parents who ask for custody of their children because of infamy and defamation of the other party. This usually happens when divorces end on bad terms.

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It is always necessary to bear in mind that children should NEVER be held hostage by their parents. For a child, the father is always the father, and the mother is always the mother. There are no replacements. This must be accepted and addressed.

Children usually identify with the father of the same sex. Daughters identify with their mothers and sons identify with their fathers, regardless of whether the fathers are divorced or not.

If children receive the message “Don’t be like your father” or “Don’t be like your mother,” their development may be stagnant. Even if this parent’s example has been “bad,” children will identify and act in a similar way, but then perhaps they will try to remedy the “bad” part of their parents, the same part that they think they are. was the cause of the separation.

When the child finds himself in an “emotional abduction”, his mental health tends to destabilize ; This can act as a trigger for anxiety disorders, depression, or even serious personality disorders. Children often suffer from divorces or separations, but the intensity with which they suffer, the time it will take them to process it, and the subsequent psychological damage that may be caused by this cause will depend exclusively on the parents.

Tips for a healthy divorce

First of all, it must be understood that  divorce does not have to be a traumatic event if it is treated in the right way.

It is necessary for parents to take into account that the emotional well-being of their children in this situation depends on how they deal with the matter, therefore, it is necessary that it be handled in a peaceful and constructive way.

The best thing for children is that the parents maintain a good relationship as parents and the divorce is carried out on good terms. Parents can divide their time with their children, in such a way that the absence of one of the parents in the home is not so abrupt for the minors.

Keep in mind that family therapy can always be used to help manage issues related to divorce or separation. These therapies are generally of great help to children, as they help them better understand the situation and provide a trustworthy place where they can express their feelings.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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