How children react and make sense of their parent’s separation will vary depending on their age and stage of development at the time of their parents’ divorce.
Children younger than two or three years may have fewer negative effects, especially if the bond and close relationship with both their parents is sustained. Still babies do feel their parents’ distress, might cope poorly with alterations and discontinuity in schedules and might also feel unprotected.
Preschoolers (children three to five years of age) might blame themselves and believe they have caused their parents’ divorce. At this age, children may fear being left alone or abandoned and for that reason might regress into a baby-like behavior. They might become uncooperative, depressed or angry. They will yearn for the absent parent especially if they do not see him/her very often.
School-aged children (six to 12 years of age) will probably have the most difficult time coping with their parent’s divorce. They are old enough to understand what is going on, but they are too young to comprehend or control their reactions to this pain. They will be torn between the two parents and feel forced to choose. Therefore, such feelings like shame, resentment, rejection, and anger are extremely common to the school-aged children at this difficult time in their lives.
Adolescents will also experience anger, fear, loneliness, and depression. They will also worry about their financial security and their future plans. Some will be frustrated should they be made responsible for chores that were not part of their routine when their parents stayed together. They might question the marriage institution in general and their own ability and desire to get or stay married.
No matter how old your child is, divorce will have a major impact on his/her life. Will your child have long lasting consequences? That will depend on how you end your marriage, how you build your life after divorce and how you deal with your ex-partner in front of your children. It is absolutely possible to raise happy and well-rounded children when you are divorced. It will take some hard work from both of you: but the results are certainly well worth it.