Over the years there have been endless studies on the psychological effects of
divorce on both parents and their children. Here are a few of my perceptions from studies on children who experienced divorce that, I believe all of us, as parents, should
take to heart.
- Not surprisingly, the first two years of divorce are the most
difficult for the children. In some cases it takes an average of three to five years to really “work through” and resolve many of the issues and
emotions that come to the surface during that time.
- Preschoolers tend to be more frightened and anxious, but seem to
adjust better than older children in the long run. Their biggest
fear is that of abandonment. Stressing security and a continuation of
family routines is very helpful for them. Older children understand
more, but they may not have adequate coping skills and therefore seem to
develop more long-term psychological problems. They tend to dwell more on their memories of their life before the divorce while negatively comparing those with their current situation. Stressing the love both parents have for their child – and that that love will continue forever is vitally important for their children’s emotional wellbeing.
- Children who may have witnessed a troubled marriage and family life
will greatly benefit from observing their parents diligently working out a
reasonable and respectful post-divorce arrangement. This positive
and mature behavior will affect a child’s adjustment more than any
It is never too late to create a child-centered divorce, even if
you started on the wrong track. Every step you take toward focusing
on your children’s emotional, psychological and physical needs as
they move through the months and years post-divorce, will be a step
toward reassuring your children that they are still loved by both parents and are being cared for by them. I encourage you to make your relationship with your children’s other parent as respectful
and considerate as you can — for the sake of your children.