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Effects of Divorce on Children

Divorce affects children differently, depending on their gender, age and stage of
development. Their world, their security and their stability seems to fall apart
when their parents divorce. Following are universal responses that researchers
have found among children of divorce.

FEELINGS

• They worry that their parents don't love them anymore and they feel
abandoned. They feel like the parent who left has divorced them too.
• They feel powerless and helpless because they can't get their parents
back together. They can't speed up or slow down the process.
• They feel angry although they may not express their anger.
• They often feel they are at fault. They may believe something they did or
said caused a parent to leave.
• They grieve. Divorce is a loss in the lives of children and parents. They
experience a grieving process very similar to mourning a death.
• They experience conflicts of loyalty.

BEHAVIORS

Acting out behavior ranges from very mild behavior, such as difficulty sleeping,
to extremely destructive behavior, such as suicide, drug abuse, or violence.

Other behaviors may include problems in school, nervous habits, repetitive


physical behaviors, and regressive behaviors such as bed-wetting, fears, and
use of comfort items. Children may become clingy and whiny and they may
need greater understanding of their moods and behavior. They have a greater
need to be nurtured.

They may think they have to "take care" of their parents. Giving up one's
childhood to care for emotionally troubled parents is a widespread characteristic
in children of divorce.

These behaviors are common for children experiencing divorce. There is a false
assumption children are "naturally resilient" and can "get through" a divorce with
little or no impact on their lives. Instead, they need support systems and
individuals to help during the transition

2005 University of Minessota

http://www.extension.umn.edu/info-u/families/BE905.html

The Effects of Divorce on Children

Posted Apr 10, 2009.


Robert Hughes, Jr., Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Probably one of the most frequently asked questions over the last two decades about family
life has been, "Is divorce harmful to children?" Although this may seem like a very
important question, I would suggest that it is time to examine a more important question
which is-- "what are the factors in divorcing families that contribute to children having
difficulties and what are the factors that foster children's adaptation?" In this paper I will
review several explanations for why children have difficulty and the scientific evidence
regarding these factors.

Are children of divorce worse off than children in married two-parent families?

Since there is so much discussion of the effects of divorce on children, I want to begin by
addressing whether there are really any differences between children who live in divorced
families and children who live in married two-parent families (I will call them "intact."). In
1991 Amato and Keith examined the results of 92 studies involving 13,000 children ranging
from preschool to young adulthood to determine what the overall results indicated. The
overall result of this analysis was that children from divorced families are on "average"
somewhat worse off than children who have lived in intact families. These children have
more difficulty in school, more behavior problems, more negative self-concepts, more
problems with peers, and more trouble getting along with their parents. A more recent
update of the findings indicates that this pattern continues in more recent research (Amato,
2001).

Despite this general finding across many studies, there are important qualifications of these
findings. First, the actual differences between the two groups are relatively small (Amato,
2001; Amato & Keith, 1991). In fact, the children in the two types of families are more alike
than different. Amato (1994) reminds us that average differences do not mean that all
children in divorced families are worse off than all children in intact families. These results
mean that as a group children from divorced families have more problems than children
from intact families.

Another way to examine this issue is illustrated by findings of Mavis Hetherington (1993).
Hetherington, like many others, finds these average differences, but she also looked at some
of her measures and examined the degree to which children in divorced and intact families
had more severe problems. On a measure of behavioral problems, Hetherington (1993)
reports that 90% of adolescent boys and girls in intact families were within the normal range
on problems and 10% had serious problems that we would generally require some type of
professional help. The percentages for divorced families were 74% of the boys and 66% of
the girls in the normal range and 26% of the boys and 34% of the girls were in the
problematic range. Amato (1999) estimates that about 40% of the young adults from
divorced families were doing better than the young people from nondivorced families.

The implications of these findings are two-fold. On the one hand, the majority of children
from divorced families do not have serious problems requiring professional help. On the
other hand, a larger percentage of children from divorced families than intact families are
likely to have serious problems. Another way to say this is that MOST children in divorced
families do not need help, but MORE children in this group than in intact families are likely to
need help. This is a complicated message and the media often errs on the side of one or the
other of these two types of findings. Both findings are important.
What causes the differences between children in divorced versus intact families?

As I said in the beginning, the general question of differences between children in different
types of families is less important than what causes these differences. Now let’s look at what
we know about what causes these differences. One way to think about this is to consider the
risks that may cause difficulties for children. Paul Amato (1993) and Kelly and Emery (2003)
indicate that there are several types of risks that may contribute to children's difficulties.
These are:

1. PARENTAL LOSS-- divorce often results in the loss of contact with one parent and
with this loss children also lose the knowledge, skills and resources (emotional,
financial, etc.) of that parent.
2. ECONOMIC LOSS-- another result of divorce is that children living in single parent
families are less likely to have as many economic resources as children living in
intact families.
3. MORE LIFE STRESS-- divorce often results in many changes in children's living
situations such as changing schools, child care, homes, etc. Children often also have
to make adjustments to changes in relationships with friends and extended family
members. These changes create a more stressful environment for children.
4. POOR PARENTAL ADJUSTMENT-- generally how children fare in families is due in part
to the mental health of the parents, this is likely to be true for children in divorced
families as well.
5. LACK OF PARENTAL COMPETENCE-- much of what happens to children in general is
related to the skill of parents in helping them develop. The competence of parents
following divorce is likely to have considerable influence on how the children are
doing.
6. EXPOSURE TO CONFLICT BETWEEN PARENTS-- conflict is frequently part of families
and may be especially common in families that have undergone divorce. The degree
to which children are exposed to conflict may have substantial effects on children's
well-being.

What evidence do we have about how each of these factors affects children in
divorced families?

Parental loss. Mothers and fathers are important resources for children. They provide
emotional support and practical assistance as well as serve as role models for their children.
Kelly and Emery (2003) report that on average, nonresidential fathers see their children only
4 times per month following divorce and about 20% of children have no contact with their
fathers 2-3 years after divorce. In contrast, non-residential mothers visit their children more
frequently and are less likely to cease contact.

The amount of contact between the nonresidential father and their children is not the
determining factor; it is the quality of the father-child relationship that matters. There is a
growing body of evidence that illustrate how nonresidential fathers affect their children. First,
when a nonresidential father has frequent contact and there is minimal conflict, children are
faring better; however, when there is conflict, frequent visits are related to poorer
adjustment of children (Hetherington & Kelly, 2002). In a study that looked at results across
a broad range of factors, Amato and Gilbreth (1999) found that when fathers helped with
homework, set appropriate limits and expectations and demonstrated warmth, children fared
better. In other words, good parenting by noncustodial parents matters. In short, children
benefit from continued relationships with nonresidential parents.

Economic losses. Due to limited economic resources, children in single-parent families may
have more difficulties. Following divorce, custodial parents (mostly mothers) generally have
less income than most two-parent families. There is a common belief that many of the
difficulties experienced by children are the result of the economic difficulties experienced in
these families. The overall evidence is not as strong in support of this hypothesis as might be
expected. Generally, family income is positively associated with children's well-being, but
some studies have not found that income improves children's well-being. It is important to
note the divorced families economic circumstances do not account completely for the well-
being of children. Researchers have statistically controlled for income differences between
intact and divorced families and all of the differences between children in these two types of
families do NOT disappear. In other words, there are still some other factors affecting
children's well-being above and beyond money. One of the ways that lower income may
impact children is through disruptions that may result from less money. Many divorced
families change residence which may result in changes in schools, child care, friends, and
other supportive relationships. In short, less money often leads to more disruptions which
may lead to more problems for children.

Life stress. In general, the accumulation of multiple stressors and changes create difficulties
for children. There are only a few studies that have explored this hypothesis, but the results
seem to support it. Recently, Crowder and Teachman (2004) found that the more often
children in single parent families moved the more likely they were to drop out of school or
become pregnant during the teen years. In general, the more stressful experiences that
children encounter during divorce the more difficulty they will have. There is also evidence
that indicates that children whose parents divorce more than once are worse off than
children who only experience one parental divorce.

Parental adjustment. The psychological adjustment of parents is a significant factor in


children's well-being. There have been many studies examining the relationship between
divorced parents' psychological well-being and children's well-being. Of the 15 studies that
have examined this relationship 13 found that there was a positive relationship between the
mental health of parents and children's mental health (Amato & Keith, 1991). That is,
children whose parents are better adjusted fare better than children whose parents are not
adjusting well. There is some evidence to suggest than when the divorced parent's
adjustment is taken into account that some of the differences between children from intact
and divorced children disappears. Despite the general support for these conclusions, there is
at least one important caution. The causal relationship between parents' and children's
adjustment is not clear. It could be that having better adjusted children improves the well-
being of the parents.

Parental competence. The skills that parents have in dealing with children have a profound
influence on children's well-being. Overall, the evidence indicates that many parents report
diminished parenting practices immediately following divorce which appears to contribute to
some of the problems that children experience. Many studies have also examined the
relationship between child-rearing skills and children's well-being. There is overwhelming
research evidence that indicates that parenting skills and the types of relationships between
parent and child are strong influences on how well children are doing.

Conflict between parents. Another risk that causes children's difficulty is conflict between
parents prior to, during and after the divorce that contributes to lower well-being. There
have been a number of studies examining this issue. Generally, it has been found that
children in high conflict families (either intact or divorced) fare worse than children in low
conflict families. Some studies have found that children in non-conflictual single parent
families are doing better than children in conflictual two-parent families. There is also
evidence that children begin to have difficulties prior to divorce and that some of these
difficulties are associated with the conflict present prior to divorce. Post-divorce conflict has a
strong influence on children's adjustment. Children in those families that can cooperate and
reduce conflict are faring better.

Summary. There are a number of factors that account for why children in divorcing families
may have difficulties—loss of contact with a supportive parent, fewer economic resources
that lead to multiple changes, more stress, poor parental adjustment, lack of parental
competence and conflict between parents. When these risks can be reduced or overcome,
then children will fare better.

Why do children and young adults from divorced families still seem to be more
distressed than children from intact families?

Even though this review has shown that children from divorced families are not
overwhelming worse off psychologically, anyone who has a conversation with a child or
young adult whose parents have divorced will tell you that these young people still seem to
experience considerable distress about the breakup of their families and that these feelings
linger. Some new work with these children indicates that while children may not be
significantly impaired as a result of the divorce, they do carry painful memories. Laumann-
Billings and Emery (2000) report that young adults in the early 20s who experienced the
divorce of their parents still report pain and distress over their parents’ divorces ten years
later. Feelings of loss about the relationship with their fathers was the most common report.
Those young people who reported high conflict between their parents were even more likely
to have feelings of loss and regret.

There is also some evidence that young adults whose parents divorce feel as if they had
little control over their lives following divorce including the transitions between households.
Less than 20% of children report that both of their parents talked to them about the
impending divorce and only 5% say that their parents tried to explain why the divorce was
occurring and were given a chance to ask questions (Dunn et al., 2001). Children report
more positive feelings and less painful memories of household transitions when they were
given some chance to voice their ideas about visiting or living arrangements (Dunn et al.,
2001).

These continuing painful memories and feelings of helplessness help us to further


understand the experience of children following divorce and provides some useful ideas
about ways to reduce these painful situations.

Overall Conclusions

The overall results of these studies suggest that while children from divorced families may,
on average, experience more major psychological and behavioral problems than children in
intact families, there are more similarities than differences. The most important question is
not whether children from divorced families are having difficulties, but what particular factors
cause these differences. Current evidence suggests that the loss of contact with parents,
economic difficulties, stress, parental adjustment and competence, and interparental conflict
all contribute at least to some degree to the difficulties of children. Some new findings shift
our attention from major problems to milder but important long-term painful memories and
feelings of helplessness. These feelings can continue well into young adulthood which
reminds us that there are many things we can do to help children. These results provide
significant implications to practitioners interested in designing interventions for children and
adults in divorcing

http://parenting247.org/article.cfm?ContentID=646

Effects of Divorce on Society


Updated on 20 Jun 2008, Published on 20 Jun 2008

Effects of Divorce on Society

Divorce has become very common in our society. Earlier, to get a divorce one of the
partner’s infidelity had to be proved, but today, with the prevailing law, getting a
divorce has become much easier. With the sudden rise in the divorce rate, people's
belief in the sanctity of marriage has reduced. Marriages have become
fraudulent and have great effects on society at large. A couple of years ago,
divorce was considered a social taboo, which indicated the failure on the part of
both the partners to lead a successful family together.
But the children of today's generation view divorce as a part and parcel of family
life which is very normal. With the increased rate of divorce, the pace of emotional
instability and crime rate is also quickening. Its effect on the family life,
interference in the development of the children and adolescent, job stability and
crime is obvious.

In the American society, young lovers get married easily without knowing and
understanding the person properly. But when they start living together, they begin
to realize each other's potential, behaviors etc. which they find hard to cope up
with. And the ultimate solution is, getting a divorce, which results in bringing up of
the children by a single parent. And a lot of flaws in the character of the children
are noticed, who have been brought up in the absence of their father, which
contributes to the deterioration of the society to a large extent. Seeing the
instability of their families, today the youth’s curiosity of having a stable life and
family has increased.

Divorce has become a sort of an epidemic in today’s society and poses a big
threat to it. To give the love of both parents by a single parent is a difficult task,
though not impossible. But the moral support that both the parents give is
different in its own way. A single parent cannot fill the hollowness that is within
the children. And this may lead to the moral degradation of the child. The cause
and effect of divorce can go to such an extent that it might leave a permanent
scar on the mind of the children which might last forever, forcing the child to
indulge in violent crimes. Researchers have shown that children from divorced
families mostly resort to robbery, and drug abuse.

It is high time now that the society itself must do something to preserve the
sanctity of marriage. For if the pace of divorce continues to increase at such an
alarming rate, then the society itself would be adulterated. And people would lose
faith in the stability of love, marriage and long lasting relationships. And life
would be far more stressful than it is now.

http://home-family.top54u.com/post/Effects-of-Divorce-on-Society.aspx

Effects of Divorce on Society

Increased youth crime rate is caused largely by absent fathers

as a result of divorce made too easy. Consider this chilling forecast.

When we pass the year 2000, we will see two groups of working age

adults emerging. One group will have received psychological, social,

economic, educational and moral benefits and the other group will have
been denied them all. The first group will have grown up with a father

present in the house and the second group will have not had a father

present. The groups will be roughly equal in size. In order to be

divorced in my parent's era of the fifties, one mate had to be proven

adulterous. Legally, one party was deemed guilty and one was innocent.

That finding affected each party financially and socially enough so

that most couples tried hard not to divorce. In Canada the rate of

divorce in 1951 was one out of twenty couples. In the late sixties,

the "sexual revolution" began and couples rebelled against the

constraints of marriage. Movie makers and journalists became rich

extolling the virtues of free love and liberation.

The addition of more grounds for divorce and the elimination

of the need to appear in court made it easier for couples to split.

Now there are "no fault" divorces which further decrease the stigma.

By 1987 one out of two couples divorced. Since then, the annual

divorce rate has dipped slightly. The stigma is almost gone. Books are

written about doing your own divorce. One can obtain a low budget

quickie divorce by phone or fax to the Dominican Republic in about

three days. There are "divorce parties". Even the Royal Family

discusses its divorce dilemmas on t.v.

The divorce picture is not all rosy. According to sociologist

Lenore Weitzman, divorced women get by on about 64% of the income they

had during marriage. For their children, this translates into less

money for school activities, clothes, opportunities for traveling and


learning, day care and sometimes food. Children can be called on to do

adult tasks before they are ready, like caring for younger siblings.

Older children may be required to work long hours at a job to help

bring money to the family. As a result, they may fall behind in their

school work. After a while, the child may feel it is hopeless to try

to keep up and decide to quit school.

At this point a girl may decide to get pregnant and bear a

child. She may feel that in doing so her life will have more meaning

and she will receive unconditional love from the child. A U.S.

National Longitudinal Survey of Youth reveals that 27% of girls from

divorced families become mothers versus 11% of girls from traditional

families. For boys, leaving school generally means a succession of low

paying jobs or life on the streets.

Certainly our "fatherless society" cannot be blamed for all

juvenile delinquency but it is a major contributor. Morals are taught

best within the confines of a stable home with both parents present.

Retired Edmonton Police Service Superintendent Chris Braiden, notes

that in the thirty year period in which violent youth crime rose by

300% in the U.S., the number of single parent families rose by 300%

and the divorce rate doubled, the same as it did in Canada. Seventy

percent of juvenile offenders in the U.S. jails grew up without a

father.

There is a drastic shortage of positive male role models.


There is no doubt about it; single mothers have and can continue to

raise good and responsible children. It takes the physical and

emotional strength of Hercules to do it and I have great respect for

mothers who have succeeded. My own mother did it. But the numbers show

that lack of fathers contribute greatly to juvenile crime.

Lately, the role of the father is superfluous. He has been

reduced to being a household helper or a child support payer. His role

is important because he provides a love that is different than the

mother's. Mother's love is unconditional. Father's love is sought

after and earned through achievement. The child must work for this

love. This type of love may sound like unreal love, but I think it is

real. The lucky child is the one who has the benefit of both kinds of

love.

The father can yield the power to invoke fear among children.

This sounds bad but it isn't. Of course, the father can be friendly

and loving but never underestimate the power of fear to keep them in

line. I am not talking about laying a hand on the children, just the

idea of something "bad happening" if they don't "shape up". I can

attest to the success of fear in my own family. It works!

Without the father present, children are ripe for becoming

anything their peers want them to be. They find it hard to resist

temptation to be dishonest or criminal. There is no father to answer

to. Yes, there is Mom to answer to but she is usually not as


intimidating as a father. In the community, a safer street is one

where there are fathers out mowing the lawn or fixing a car. A child

is less apt to commit a crime with fathers visibly present. There is a

saying that "it takes a whole community to raise a child." Mothers set

the standards for the community and fathers enforce them.

To get back on the course of a family oriented instead of a

divorce oriented society, I feel we should start with acknowledgment

of the sad state of affairs our families are in. We should recognize

the link divorce has to youth crime. We should pay close attention to

what makes successful families and model ours after theirs. We need to

recognize that marriage and parenting is a difficult job but can be

oh-so-rewarding. Children's needs should always come first. If there

are marital difficulties, couples should commit to counseling unless

the situation is dangerous for the mother and children. I feel couples

should give themselves a year of work, then re-evaluate their

marriage. Applaud organizations such as Al Gore's "Father to Father"

program and the group Promise Keepers. These groups seek to elevate

the importance of fatherhood.

Several years ago, Vice President Dan Quayle accused t.v.

character Murphy Brown of ridiculing the two parent family. He endured

a lot of ridicule himself from people of conservative and liberal

beliefs. Now even President Bill Clinton concedes that "Dan Quayle was

right"
Blankenhorn, David. Perspectives on Fatherhood; Between Haves and

Have-nots: We need a credible national agenda to reverse the trend of

fathers being superfluous to family life.; Home edition, Los Angeles

Times, 20 Jun 1993, pp. M-5

McGovern, Celeste. The Mirage of `easy' divorce., Vol. 22, Alberta

Report/Western Report, 28 Aug 1995, pp. 28

http://www.cyberessays.com/Politics/130.htm
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The Effects of Divorce on Education
Joanne Wilson has worked as a writer, announcer, interviewer and producer in the
broadcast industry for more than 20 years.

http://www.theparentreport.com/radio/index.html

Effects of Divorce on Society-


Increased youth crime rate is caused largely by absent fathers
as a result of divorce made too easy. Consider this chilling forecast.

When we pass the year 2000, we will see two groups of working age

adults emerging. One group will have received psychological, social,

economic, educational and moral benefits and the other group will have

been denied them all. The first group will have grown up with a father

present in the house and the second group will have not had a father

present. The groups will be roughly equal in size. In order to be

divorced in my parent's era of the fifties, one mate had to be proven

adulterous. Legally, one party was deemed guilty and one was innocent.

That finding affected each party financially and socially enough so

that most couples tried hard not to divorce. In Canada the rate of

divorce in 1951 was one out of twenty couples. In the late sixties,

the "sexual revolution" began and couples rebelled against the

constraints of marriage. Movie makers and journalists became rich

extolling the virtues of free love and liberation.

The addition of more grounds for divorce and the elimination

of the need to appear in court made it easier for couple


Council on Families in America. Current Controversies: Marriage and Divorce. Mary E. Williams. Greenhaven Press 1997.
Viewpoint
http://socialissues.wiseto.com/Articles/EJ3010052215/

Psychological and Emotional Aspects of Divorce


by Kathleen O'Connell Corcoran

June 1997-Print
-Email
A. Divorce Effects and Prevalence
B. Effects of Divorce on Children
C. Emotional Stages of Divorce
D. Typical Reactions of Children to Divorce
E. Signs of Stress in Children

Divorce Effects and Prevalence


It may be helpful to understand a little about divorce and the typical effects it has on men,
women and children. The divorce rate in the United States is the highest in the world. Fifty
percent of marriages end in divorce. Sixty-seven percent of all second marriages end in
divorce. As high as these figures are, what is also true is that the divorce rate appears to be
dropping. The reasons for this change are not clear. Many people cannot afford to divorce,
many people cannot afford to marry. Another reason is that "baby boomers," who account
for a large proportion of our population are no longer in their 20s and 30s, the ages when
divorce is most prevalent. The societal expectation is that divorced life is less satisfying
than married life. Divorce is associated with an increase in depression--people experience
loss of partner, hopes and dreams, and lifestyle. The financial reality of divorce is often
hard to comprehend: the same resources must now support almost twice the expenses.

Fifty percent of all children are children of divorce. Twenty-eight percent of all children are
born of never married parents. Divorce is expensive. Aid for Dependent Children (AFDC)
resources are drained by the needs of divorced and single parent families; including the
cost of collecting child support.

Here are some of the experiences of men and women in divorce.

For women:

1. Women initiate divorce twice as often as men

2. 90% of divorced mothers have custody of their children (even if they did not receive it in
court)

3. 60% of people under poverty guidelines are divorced women and children

4. Single mothers support up to four children on an average after-tax annual income of


$12,200

5. 65% divorced mothers receive no child support (figure based on all children who could
be eligible, including never-married parents, when fathers have custody, and parents
without court orders); 75% receive court-ordered child support (and rising since inception of
uniform child support guidelines, mandatory garnishment and license renewal suspension)

6. After divorce, women experience less stress and better adjustment in general than do
men. The reasons for this are that (1) women are more likely to notice marital problems and
to feel relief when such problems end, (2) women are more likely than men to rely on social
support systems and help from others, and (3) women are more likely to experience an
increase in self-esteem when they divorce and add new roles to their lives.

7. Women who work and place their children in child care experience a greater stigma than
men in the same position. Men in the same position often attract support and compassion.
For men:

1. Men are usually confronted with greater emotional adjustment problems than women.
The reasons for this are related to the loss of intimacy, the loss of social connection,
reduced finances, and the common interruption of the parental role.

2. Men remarry more quickly than women.

3. As compared to "deadbeat dads," men who have shared parenting (joint legal custody),
ample time with their children, and an understanding of and direct responsibility for
activities and expenses of children stay involved in their children's lives and are in greater
compliance with child support obligations. There is also a greater satisfaction with child
support amount when negotiated in mediation. Budgets are prepared, and responsibility
divided in a way that parents understand.

4. Men are initially more negative about divorce than women and devote more energy in
attempting to salvage the marriage.

Effects of Divorce on Children


In the last few years, higher-quality research which has allowed the "meta-analysis" of
previously published research, has shown the negative effects of divorce on children have
been greatly exaggerated. In the past we read that children of divorce suffered from
depression, failed in school, and got in trouble with the law. Children with depression and
conduct disorders showed indications of those problems predivorce because there was
parental conflict predivorce. Researchers now view conflict, rather than the divorce or
residential schedule, as the single most critical determining factor in children's post-divorce
adjustment. The children who succeed after divorce, have parents who can communicate
effectively and work together as parents.

Actually, children's psychological reactions to their parents' divorce vary in degree


dependent on three factors: (1) the quality of their relationship with each of their parents
before the separation, (2) the intensity and duration of the parental conflict, and (3) the
parents' ability to focus on the needs of children in their divorce.

Older studies showed boys had greater social and academic adjustment problems than
girls. New evidence indicates that when children have a hard time, boys and girls suffer
equally; they just differ in how they suffer. Boys are more externally symptomatic than girls,
they act out their anger, frustration and hurt. They may get into trouble in school, fight more
with peers and parents. Girls tend to internalize their distress. They may become
depressed, develop headaches or stomach aches, and have changes in their eating and
sleeping patterns.

A drop in parents' income often caused by the same income now supporting two
households directly affects children over time in terms of proper nutrition, involvement in
extracurricular activities, clothing (no more designer jeans and fancy shoes), and school
choices. Sometimes a parent who had stayed home with the children is forced into the
workplace and the children experience an increase in time in child care.

A child's continued involvement with both of his or her parents allows for realistic and better
balanced future relationships. Children learn how to be in relationship by their relationship
with their parents. If they are secure in their relationship with their parents, chances are
they will adapt well to various time-sharing schedules and experience security and
fulfillment in their intimate relationships in adulthood. In the typical situation where mothers
have custody of the children, fathers who are involved in their children's lives are also the
fathers whose child support is paid and who contribute to extraordinary expenses for a
child: things like soccer, music lessons, the prom dress, or a special class trip. One
important factor which contributes to the quality and quantity of the involvement of a father
in a child's life is mother's attitude toward the child's relationship with father. When fathers
leave the marriage and withdraw from their parenting role as well, they report conflicts with
the mother as the major reason.

The impact of father or mother loss is not likely to be diminished by the introduction of
stepparents. No one can replace Mom or Dad. And no one can take away the pain that a
child feels when a parent decides to withdraw from their lives. Before embarking on a new
family, encourage clients to do some reading on the common myths of step families. Often
parents assume that after the remarriage "we will all live as one big happy family." Step
family relationships need to be negotiated, expectations need to be expressed, roles need
to be defined, realistic goals need to be set.

Most teenagers (and their parents) eventually adjust to divorce and regard it as having
been a constructive action, but one-third do not. In those instances, the turbulence of the
divorce phase (how adversarial a battle it is), has been shown to play a crucial role in
creating unhealthy reactions in affected teenagers.

Joan Kelly, PhD, former president of the Academy of Family Mediators and prominent
divorce researcher from California reports that, depending on the strength of the parent-
child bond at the time of divorce, the parent-child relationship diminishes over time for
children who see their fathers less than 35% of the time. Court-ordered "standard visitation"
patterns typically provide less.

# DaysEvery other weekend 484 weeks in summer28½ spring break3½ winter


break7½ holidays4Total90 days = 25%Add 1 day per week44Total134 days =
35%
Divorce also has some positive effects for children. Single parents are often closer to their
children than married parents were. This is can also be negative as when a child takes on
too much responsibility because one or both parents are not functioning well as a parent, or
when a parent talks to a child about how hurt they are by the other parent, or how horrible
that other parent is. Often a separated parent will make an effort to spend quality time with
the children and pay attention to their desires (Disneyland, small gifts, phone calls, etc).
And you can imagine that some children might find some benefit in celebrating two
Christmases and birthdays each year. If both parents remarry, they may have twice as
many supportive adults/nurturers. At the very least, when parents can control their conflict,
the children can experience freedom from daily household tension between parents.

Emotional Stages of Divorce


The decision to end a relationship can be traumatic, chaotic, and filled with contradictory
emotions. There are also specific feelings, attitudes, and dynamics associated with whether
one is in the role of the initiator or the receiver of the decision to breakup. For example, it is
not unusual for the initiator to experience fear, relief, distance, impatience, resentment,
doubt, and guilt. Likewise, when a party has not initiated the divorce, they may feel shock,
betrayal, loss of control, victimization, decreased self esteem, insecurity, anger, a desire to
"get even," and wishes to reconcile.

To normalize clients experiences during this time, it may be helpful to know that typical
emotional stages have been identified with ending a relationship. It may also be helpful to
understand that marriages do not breakdown overnight; the breakup is not the result of one
incident; nor is the breakup the entire fault of one party. The emotional breaking up process
typically extends over several years and is confounded by each party being at different
stages in the emotional process while in the same stage of the physical (or legal) process.
It is also quite normal to do different things to try to create distance from the former partner
while divorcing. Unfortunately, this distancing often takes the form of fault finding. Not to be
disrespectful, but it's not unlike the process one goes through in deciding to buy a new car:
somehow every flaw in that favorite old car needs to be noticed and exaggerated in order to
feel okay about selling it. Also, if the other person is portrayed as really awful, one can
escape any responsibility for the end of the marriage. A common response to divorce is to
seek vengeance. When parties put their focus on getting even, there is an equal amount of
energy expended on being blameless. What's true is that blaming and fault finding are not
necessary or really helpful. Psychologist Jeffrey Kottler has written a very helpful book on
this subject entitled Beyond Blame: A New Way of Resolving Conflicts in Relationships,
published by Jossey-Bass.

Another normal rationalization is that the marriage was a wholly unpleasant experience and
escaping it is good. Or the marriage was unpleasant and now the other partner must make
this up in the divorce. Thinking that the marriage was wholly unpleasant is unfair to both
parties and can hinder emotional healing. Both stayed in the marriage for as long as they
did because there were some good things about it. There were also some things that did
not work for them and these are why they are divorcing.

Much of your clients' healing will involve acceptance, focusing on the future, taking
responsibility for their own actions (now and during the marriage), and acting with integrity.
Focusing on the future they would like to create may require an acknowledgment of each
other's differing emotional stages and a compassionate willingness to work together to
balance the emotional comfort of both parties.

The following information on the emotional stages of ending a relationship is provided to


help parties through the emotional quagmire of ending a relationship and assist in their
personal healing.

I. DISILLUSIONMENT OF ONE PARTY (sometimes 1-2 years before verbalized)

A. Vague feelings of discontentment, arguments, stored resentments, breaches of trust


B. Problems are real but unacknowledged
C. Greater distance; lack of mutuality
D. Confidential, fantasy, consideration of pros and cons of divorce
E. Development of strategy for separation
F. Feelings: fear, denial, anxiety, guilt, love, anger, depression, grief

II. EXPRESSING DISSATISFACTION (8-12 months before invoking legal process)

A. Expressing discontent or ambivalence to other party


B. Marital counseling, or
C. Possible honeymoon phase (one last try)
D. Feelings: relief (that it's out in the open), tension, emotional roller coaster, guilt, anguish,
doubt, grief

III. DECIDING TO DIVORCE (6-12 months before invoking legal process)

A. Creating emotional distance (i.e., disparaging the other person/situation in order to leave
it)
B. Seldom reversible (because it's been considered for awhile)
C. Likely for an affair to occur
D. Other person just begins Stage I (considering divorce) and feels denial, depressed,
rejected, low self-esteem, anger
E. Both parties feel victimized by the other
F. Feelings: anger, resentment, sadness, guilt, anxiety for the family, the future, impatience
with other, needy

IV. ACTING ON DECISION (beginning the legal process)

A. Physical separation
B. Emotional separation (complicated by emotional flareups)
C. Creating redefinition (self orientation)
D. Going public with the decision
E. Setting the tone for the divorce process (getting legal advice and setting legal precedent:
children, support, home)
F. Choosing sides and divided loyalties of friends and families
G. Usually when the children find out (they may feel responsible, behave in ways to make
parents interact)
H. Feelings: traumatized, panic, fear, shame, guilt, blame, histrionics

V. GROWING ACCEPTANCE (during the legal process or after)

A. Adjustments: physical, emotional


B. Accepting that the marriage wasn't happy or fulfilling
C. Regaining a sense of power and control, creating a plan for the future, creating a new
identity, discovering new talents and resources
D. This is the best time to be in mediation: parties can look forward and plan for the future;
moods can be more elevated (thrill of a second chance at life)

VI. NEW BEGINNINGS (completing the legal process to four years after)

A. Parties have moved beyond the blame and anger to forgiveness, new respect, new roles
B. Experiences: insight, acceptance, integrity.Comparing Mediation and Litigation

Why is mediation a compassionate and appropriate venue for helping people in divorce?
On the average, it takes family members approximately four to eight years to recover from
the emotional and financial expense of a bitter adversarial divorce. In an adversarial
divorce, there is no possible resolution of the emotional issues, only decreased trust and
increased resentment.

A litigated divorce can cost each party $5,000 to $35,000. The focus is on assigning blame
and fault and skirmishing for the most powerful position (changing locks, freezing bank
accounts, getting temporary custody of the children). Communications between parties
break down. Negotiations proceed through attorneys and are strategic and positioned.
Attorneys have an ethical responsibility to zealously advocate for the best interest of their
client. Often there is no consideration of the best interests of the children or recognition for
the need for parties to have an ongoing relationship because they have children, friends,
extended family, and community together. Going to court is an expensive risk; someone
who does not know you makes decisions for you that will affect your whole life.

Mediators may save clients thousands of dollars in immediate and future legal and
counseling fees. Mediators can focus parties on creating their best possible future and help
parties resolve their emotional issues for the best interests of their children and their own
psychological well being. Mediators can help parties feel understood, accept responsibility
for the failure of the marriage and, when there are children, begin to reshape their
relationship from one of partners to coparents. Mediators can empower clients by helping
them be at their best (rather than their worst) during a challenging time in their lives, enable
them to have an active role in their separating (creative choice vs. court imposition), create
a clear and understandable road map for the future, make informed decisions, and to look
back at their behavior in the mediation of their divorce with integrity and self respect.
Typical Reactions of Children to Divorce
Much of children's post-divorce adjustment is dependent on (1) the quality of their
relationship with each parent before the divorce, (2) the intensity and duration of the
parental conflict, and (3) the parents' ability to focus on the needs of the children in the
divorce. Typically, children whose parents are going through a rough divorce engage in
behaviors which are designed to help them feel secure. What follows are some typical
experiences of children to divorce and separation:

A. DENIAL

This especially occurs in young children and surfaces as story telling (Mommy and Daddy
and me going to Disneyland; we're moving into a duplex and Daddy will live next door; they
will also have reconciliation fantasies).

B. ABANDONMENT

When parents separate, children worry who will take care of them. They are afraid they too
are divorceable and will be abandoned by one or both of their parents. This problem is
worsened by one or both parents taking the children into their confidence, talking about the
other parent in front of the children, using language like "Daddy is divorcing us," being late
for pick-up, or abducting the children. Children who are feeling insecure will say things to a
parent which is intended to evoke a mama bear/papa bear response (a demonstration of
protectiveness). If children do not have "permission" to have a good relationship with the
other parent, or if they think they need to "take care of" one of their parents in the divorce,
they are likely to end up having feelings of divided loyalties between their parents or, in the
extreme, they may become triangulated with one parent against the other parent.

C. PREOCCUPATION WITH INFORMATION

Children will want details of what is happening and how it affects them. Communication
from the parents needs to be unified and age appropriate.

D. ANGER AND HOSTILITY

Children may express anger and hostility with peers, siblings, or parents. School
performance may be impaired. Hostility of children toward parents is often directed at the
parent perceived to be at fault. Hostility turned inward looks like depression in children.

E. DEPRESSION

Lethargy, sleep and eating disturbances, acting out, social withdrawal, physical injury (more
common in adolescents).

F. IMMATURITY/HYPERMATURITY

Children may regress to an earlier developmental stage when they felt assured of both
parents' love. They may do some "baby-talk" or wet their beds. Children may become
"parentified" by what they perceive to be the emotional and physical needs of their parents
("Someone needs to be in charge here.")

G. PREOCCUPATION WITH RECONCILIATION

The more conflict there is between the parents, the longer children hold onto the notion of
their parents' reconciliation. It is clear that the parents are not "getting on" with their lives.
Children will often act out in ways which force their parents to interact (negatively or
positively). Children whose parents were very conflictual during the marriage often mistake
the strong emotions of conflict with intimacy. They see the parents as engaged in an
intimate relationship.

H. BLAME AND GUILT

Because so much marital conflict may be related to the stress of parenting, children often
feel responsible for their parents' divorce--they feel that somehow their behavior
contributed to it. This is especially true when parents fight during exchanges of the children
or in negotiating schedules: children see that parents are fighting over them. They may try
to bargain their parents back together by promises of good behavior; they may have
difficulty with transitions or refuse to go with the other parent.

I. ACTING OUT

Children will often act out their own and their parents' anger. In an attempt to survive in a
hostile environment, children will often take the side of the parent they are presently with.
This may manifest in refusals to talk to the other parent on the phone or reluctance to share
time with the other parent. Adolescents will typically act out in ways similar to how the
parents are acting out.

In summary, expect that children will test a parent's loyalty, experience loyalty binds, not
want to hurt either parent, force parents to interact because they don't want the divorce, try
to exert some power in the situation, express anger over the divorce, occasionally refuse to
go with the other parent (normal divorce stress, loyalty conflict/triangulation, or they may
simply not want to stop doing what they're doing at the moment--similar to the reaction
we've all gotten when we pick our children up from child care, or we want to go home from
the park).

The most common problem which arise tend to stem from triangulation, divided loyalties,
and projection. Some indicators of each are:

a. Triangulation: Child refuses to have time with the other parent or talk to the other parent
on the phone, child badmouths the other parent.

b. Divided loyalties: When a child tells each parent different and opposing things about
what they want it is a good indication that the child is trying to please both parents and is
experiencing divided loyalties.

c. Projection: Children are barometers of a parent's emotional well-being. Usually a parent


reporting the stress of a child can not see that the child is acting on the parent's anxiety.
Parents should ask themselves how they are feeling about the divorce, the other parent,
and the time sharing arrangements before assuming the child is having difficulty adjusting
or assuming the problem is with the other household.

Signs of Stress in Children


Sometimes parents need help identifying stress in children, especially little ones. What
follows are some typical experiences and signs of stress in children of different ages.

I. INFANTS AND TODDLERS:

A. Regression in terms of sleeping, toilet training or eating; slowing down in the mastery of
new skills
B. Sleep disturbances (difficulty gong to sleep; frequent waking)
C. Difficulty leaving parent; clinginess
D. General crankiness, temper tantrums, crying.

II. THREE TO FIVE YEARS:

A. Regression: returning to security blankets and discarded toys, lapses in toilet training,
thumb sucking
B. Immature grasp of what has happened; bewildered; making up fantasy stories
C. Blaming themselves and feeling guilty
D. Bedtime anxiety; fitful/fretful sleep; frequent waking
E. Fear of being abandoned by both parents; clinginess
F. Greater irritability, aggression, temper tantrums.

III. SIX TO EIGHT YEARS:

A. Pervasive sadness; feeling abandoned and rejected


B. Crying and sobbing
C. Afraid of their worst fears coming true
D. Reconciliation fantasies
E. Loyalty conflicts; feeling physically torn apart
F. Problems with impulse control; disorganized behavior.

IV. NINE TO TWELVE YEARS:

A. Able to see family disruption clearly; try to bring order to situation


B. Fear of loneliness
C. Intense anger at the parent they blame for causing the divorce
D. Physical complaints; headaches and stomach aches
E. May become overactive to avoid thinking about the divorce
F. Feel ashamed of what's happening in their family; feel they are different from other
children.

V. ADOLESCENTS:

A. Fear of being isolated and lonely


B. Experience parents as leaving them; feel parents are not available to them
C. Feel hurried to achieve independence
D. Feel in competition with parents
E. Worry about their own future loves and marriage; preoccupied with the survival of
relationships
F. Discomfort with a parent's dating and sexuality
G. Chronic fatigue; difficulty concentrating
H. Mourn the loss of the family of their childhood.

Biography

Kathleen O'Connell Corcoran

Kathleen O'Connell Corcoran, Ph.D., died at the age of 50 of cancer on September 19,
1998. Kathleen was a nationally-recognized mediation practitioner and trainer, providing
basic and advanced mediation, conflict resolution, and facilitation training as well as
supervision, consultation, and internships. She was a Practitioner Member of the Academy
of Family Mediators. Kathleen encouraged all whom she worked with in mediation to "do
the right thing." She appealed to all of us to be our best and to give our children the love
and support they need. 1997

http://www.mediate.com/articles/Psych.cfm

Effects of Divorce on Women


Updated on 20 Jun 2008, Published on 20 Jun 2008

Effects of Divorce on Women

A marriage that has led to a divorce, has a deep impact on the mind of the
woman, leaving her tired, insecure, mentally and physically weak. All through my
life I have seen all the ups and downs of life that it has to offer. And I know how it
feels to be shaken morally. I have seen a number of marriages which ended up
into separation. And the trauma these women go through is not only the mental
trauma, but also the sufferings they undergo, so as to survive and make a living,
to bring up their children as a responsible single parent.

Women as such are the most affected. The toughest times to deal with are the
initial stages of divorce. It stresses us out totally making us totally devastated. It
makes us feel insecure, helpless, worn out. We seem to forget the meaning of
life with all our hopes shattered and scattered all around us. The feeling of
rejection engulfs us to such an extent that we start losing our self esteem. With
no one around to comfort us at such a crucial stage, a sense of insecurity and
guilt overcomes us. We begin to blame ourselves for all that has happened. As a
result of which, we suffer from depression. We begin to question ourselves about
the challenges that time has set for us.

Often women are troubled with thoughts like how will I pay the bills that have
already piled up? How will I make a new beginning with so much of burden and
responsilibility already on my shoulder? How will I parent my child and will I get
alimony for my child? How will I clear the dues of the divorce lawyer? Whom
shall I approach for help? These are the matters that usually bother a woman apart
from going through the mental agony. What one can do at this juncture is seek
advice from a lawyer who will tell you about the divorce rights.

Most often, women conclude that divorce is the key to freedom from an unhappy
marriage. But we forget to realize the fact that it is very difficult to recover from it.

Reasons and causes that lead to divorce are many. One might consider that the
best thing to put an end to all the pains would be to end the marriage. But before
jumping into such a conclusion, right away sit back and think about it, for u might
regret it at a later stage of your life. For most women, who are divorced, say if they
had known the obvious, then they would have never asked for a divorce.
Health
September 28, 2006 by
Gary Picariello
Gary Picariello
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Effects of Divorce on Children | Children of Divorce

Divorce His, Divorce Hers


A divorce is never a good thing - seems like at some point a couple always gets in a tug of war
over property, children and assets. Obviously, no couple goes into marriage thinking they will be
the ones who won’t make it. The “economical” ffects of divorce on the soon-to-be ex-husband
and wife are one thing; the physical effects of divorce are another. Two recent US study’s: one
at Bowling green University in Ohio and the other at Mark Hayword University in Texas are
showing that for couples age 40 and over; a divorce affects the overall health of the female,
while at the same time apparently having some positive effects on the male heart. The research
is revealing the strange effects of stress on an individual’s life.

For females in the 40-and-over age group, a divorce can manifest itself with cardiovascular
problems, while these risks seem to be absent from the male. In fact, studies show that
remaining married to the same person can actually add years to a man’s life. A divorce or
widowed male is no more susceptible to cardiovascular risks than if he was married all his life to
the same woman. This is not necessarily news, as the physical benefits of staying married have
been documented. The physical detriments of being divorced have not. Thus, these two inter-
related studies.

According to a report published in the Journal of marriage and Family, from 1992 to 2000, a
group of nearly 9500 men and women from 51 to 61 years of age were given follow-up
interviews every two years. The results seem to bear out that the females in the test-group
whether divorced, widowed or re-married were more susceptible to cardiovascular disease than
their male counterparts. Studies reveals further that after 60 years of age, 33% of those women
divorced, 30% of those widowed and 315 of those re-married were suffering from some serious
cardiovascular problems. As compared to 22% of women who remained married to the same
partner.

These same physical risks were not readily apparent for divorced males - only 19% of divorced
or widowed males demonstrated any cardiopathic risks.
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/64864/a_new_study_reveals_the_effects_of.h
tml

The effects of Divorce on Children and Education

Divorce In The Classroom: When Does My Child Need


Special Education?
Jessica St. Clair, M.F.T.
Children exposed to divorce are twice as likely to repeat a grade and five times likelier
to be expelled or suspended from school, according to the article "Divorce's Toll on
Children" by Karl Zinsmeister. In the early months after a divorce, young children
especially, are less imaginative, more repetitive and passive watchers. They tend to be
more dependent, demanding, unaffectionate and disobedient than children from intact
families. They are more afraid of abandonment, loss of love and bodily harm. They
carry these problems to school.

John Guidubaldi and Joseph Perry found in their survey of 700 youngsters that intact
families on 9 of 30 mental health measures, show among other things, more withdrawal,
dependency and inattention, and unhappiness, and less work effort. Divorced students
were more likely to abuse drugs, to commit violent acts, to take their own life and to
bear children out of wedlock. School personnel have their hands full trying to deal with
the psychological and social issues of divorce in the classroom.

According to the National Survey of Children, 15 percent of children living with their
mothers without contact with fathers were booted out of school. In Judith Wallerstein's
study of the effects of divorce on children, of the middle class sample, 13% of the
children had dropped out of school all together. Barely half of Wallersteins' subjects
went to college, far less than the 85% average for students in their high schools. Sadly,
she concludes that 60% of the divorce children in her study will fail to match the
educational achievements of their fathers.

These alarming statistics underscore the seriousness of the behavioral effects of divorce
on our children. More importantly, a child who has learning difficulties and who has
been surviving at school without proper identification and services will deteriorate
quickly when divorce destroys his world. What teachers and professionals might label
as his reaction to the loss of family, may in fact be a glimpse at the true nature of his
learning delays and special needs. More than one child has gone undiagnosed for more
than a year because the effects of divorce that masked the brewing disaster of dyslexia
and a learning processing delay. Unidentified and unassisted, these children are further
devastated by divorce and beomce the next candidates for continuation school and drop
out status.

Psycho-educational testing conducted by the school psychologist at parent's request will


assist educators and parents in determining the nature of a child's difficulties in school.
Remember, the standard for extra services for a certain greoup of special education
students is that their achievement is well below their ability. To put it another way,
otherwise smart kids (at aboit average intelligence and above) are not cutting the
mustard. They become inattentive and uncooperative when overwhelmed at school,
therefore, don't be too quick to blame avoidance and belligerence just on the divorce.
Also children who withdraw could need special services just as much as the disruptive
students. Children, like adults, handle stress in different ways.

If your child is having difficulties learning, consult with the school psychologist and get
information about your rights from the state and federal government. Obtaining proper
placement for your child is difficult and time consuming but well worth the effort. If
you are not satisfied with the school assessment, request a reassessment by an outside
source. Work with the school and district until your child is properly placed. Above all,
do not confuse divorce issues with learning disabilities. Help your child with counseling
and proper academic placement. Ask your school for counseling referrals, if necessary.
Take the lead in planning your child's education. Except for maybe their other parent, no
one else will be as motivated as you are.

Jessica St. Clair, M.F.T., is a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor with over twenty
years experience working with families and children. She is a therapist, credentialed
teacher and qualified child custody evaluator. Jessica has worked with hundreds of
families to prepare them for custody evaluations as ordered by the Court. Jessica is a
woman of great empathy and has helped many children cope with the turmoil divorce
creates in their lives. Jessica practices in Newport Beach and Santa Ana, Ca. She is the
leader of Planet Divorce and Parenting Wizards, both joint projects of Divorce Wizards,
Inc. and Child Custody Consultants. You may reach Jessica St. Clair at 714-568-1111 or
www.childcustodyconsultant.com.

http://www.divorcewizards.com/The-effects-of-Divorce-on-Children-and-
Education.html
The Effects of Divorce on Children

When a child's parents break up, it can be a very confusing time for him/her. To make the transition easier, it is important
that parents are taught how to prepare their children for parental separation, what to expect from children (i.e. possible
physical and emotional reactions) and how to protect children from parental conflict.

A family experiencing separation and/or divorce enters a process that involves a vast array of feelings ranging from
shock, to anger, to sadness, to guilt. These emotions are felt by all, and unless addressed, can leave lasting scars.

When a couple makes the difficult decision to separate, it is imperative for them to recognize that their children's
fundamental need for security, remains the same as during the time that the parents were married. Children need to feel
that their parents will still provide them with emotional and physical security. In order for a child to feel secure, their
parents must demonstrate that they are fully competent to cope with and get through the changes that come with
divorce and separation.

The younger the child, the less able they are to communicate their needs to their parents regarding separation or
divorce. When pre-school children feel unloved, neglected or insecure, they tell you with their behaviour (e.g. regressing
back to earlier stages such as thumb sucking, wetting the bed, afraid of the dark etc…). Older children are better able to
communicate verbally, but they will also show their feelings through their behaviour (e.g. lack of interest in school,
getting poor grades etc…). Adolescents may react to the divorce by cutting classes, becoming verbally abusive, using
alcohol and/or drugs, defying curfew or by acting withdrawn and depressed.

How Can Counselling Help?

After arriving at a decision to separate, a couple must take a lot into consideration. Counselling can prove to be a helpful
process that can assist the family to cope with this difficult time. Each individual is different and therefore deals with the
news of separation in a unique way. As a result, families choosing to enter counselling must utilize it in a way that serves
their family best. In many cases, separating couples proceed through counselling in stages.

The first stage of counselling often begins before the couple breaks the news to their children. This way, the couple can
first begin to deal with their own emotions which can help them to later put their children's feelings above their own. As
well, a counsellor can help the couple decide the best time and way to deliver the news to their children and can
educate them on what to expect from children according to their different ages and developmental stages.

The second stage of counselling usually occurs after the children have been told about the separation. At this time, it is
not uncommon for children to experience many different emotions that they are unable to express to their parents for
fear of taking sides and/or hurting feelings. A counsellor can provide these children with an outlet to deal with their
feelings in a safe and secure environment.

Family Therapist Susan Lieberman gives examples of skills that parents are taught in counselling to help children cope
with separation as well as some common signs that children are reacting to separation.

Helping Your Child Cope

• Assure them that both parents love them


• Give them reassurance and understanding
• Acknowledge their dilemma and confusion
• Allow them to be loyal to both parents
• Minimize conflict in front of your children
• Try not to substitute children for adult companionship
• Children should maintain links with their extended family
• Share feelings and/or information with your children- children feel terribly insecure and fearful when you keep
them in the dark
• Set up a support structure for your child. People who could be a part of your child's support network could be:
the parents of your child's best friend, your child's teacher, your family doctor, family, friends, a therapist who
specializes in children, a pet and most importantly, yourself!

Children's Common Reactions to Separation

Behaviour:

• Clinging to one or both parents


• Loss of interest in friends
• Attention seeking
• Aggression
• Physical symptoms i.e. stomach aches, headaches, etc…
• Drop in grades and/or complaints from teacher
• Bed wetting
• Depression/withdrawal
• Moody/silent/listless
• Resentment
• Difficulty concentrating

Feelings:

• Emotional distress
• Sadness and grief
• Relief
• Anger
• Guilt
• Fears of abandonment…"What's going to happen to me?"
• Rejection
• Insecurity
• Confusion
• Frustrated…"Nothing is the same!"
• Worried/stressed
• Depressed
• Shock/surprise/denial/disbelief

Children are often the forgotten victims in a separation/divorce. However, with the right amount of sensitivity,
compassion and patience on the part of parents and others in the community, children should be able to overcome and
deal with their feelings and emotions.

Back to Reports & Articles


Back to Family Support Network

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Susan Lieberman is in private practice in North York as a family therapist and public speaker. For more information,
Call: (416) 512-6356. or Email: susanl@familysupport.net

http://www.familysupport.net/content/articles/the_effects_of_divorce_on_children.htm