Making the choice to divorce or separate is never easy, especially when children are involved. It can often feel impossible to gauge how this might affect your child. This can leave you feeling powerless to tackle the problems that may arise.
Thankfully, many studies have been conducted on the sociological effects of divorce on children. Understanding how different children react to and process a separation or divorce can be vital to ensuring your child grows up without any lasting effects on their development.
Today we’ll explore the known sociological effects that affect children with separated or divorced parents. as well as strive to provide helpful ways to manage, support, and understand your child in this difficult time.
Humans As Social Creatures: The Cornerstone to Adolescent Growth
Before we delve into the sociological effects of divorce on children, it’s important to lay a foundation of understanding for humans in general. It’s common for these problems to be isolated into their own little box, ignoring the broader scope of how we all operate.
Humans are social creatures, and children are significantly more reliant on the sociological structures around them than adults. We yearn for connection, protection, and understanding amongst our peers. If we begin to lose these connections, we will often reflect introspectively to find out why.
This phenomenon is responsible for a significant amount of personal growth in all adults.
Yet, what about a child?
Children will respond to a divorce or separation differently, yet they all share one key quality. They suffer a pivotal collapse of a core sociological structure in their lives. They become introspective, yet they are often too young to fully process what this means.
It’s for this reason that the following sociological effects can manifest themselves:
Difficulty With Academic Engagement
Children who experience their parents’ divorce at a young age will often struggle with academic studies in the future, studies reflect. The core theory behind this has to do with their inability to develop healthy relationships with their peers and teachers.
On the surface, this can express itself in the form of disillusionment. Children will often express no excitement for study and a nihilistic attitude towards what it can offer them. Inside, children will feel as if they can’t connect or succeed after experiencing such a traumatic event so early in their lives.
Sudden Destructive Behaviour
Studies have shown that children who suffer through the divorce of their parents are likely to express themselves through destructive behaviour. For younger children, below the age of ten, this is often seen through trashing their room, fighting their parents physically, or committing a petty crime.
For teenagers, destructive behaviour can often be drug-related, involve violence at school, or involve petty crime as well.
Feelings of Guilt, Anxiety, Pain, and Regret
Immediately following a divorce or separation, children will be feeling a cocktail of emotions. These include acute guilt, anxiety, pain, and regret. While each child will process these differently, studies have shown that for up to a year after the divorce or separation, it can have a negative impact on their social behaviour.
There is no one true answer to how this will present itself. Every child is different. Yet, knowing your child is feeling this range of emotions should help you to approach them in a healthy manner.
The academic studies around this topic reflect one key element that’s helpful. You should not approach this problem with the belief you’ll “solve” it. Instead, simply give your child a healthy medium to express what they’re feeling.
It is extremely common for children to develop an inferiority complex as they mature when a divorce or separation happens early in their lives. The prevailing theory behind the cause of this has to do with the above point. Feelings of guilt, primarily, cause the child to feel that they were the reason for the divorce.
While these feelings are frequently subconscious, they have no bearing on the outcome. This can express itself in their ability to make friends, their academic studies, their teenage love lives, and even how they view their own bodies.
The best approach to tackling this problem is honesty. When your child is old enough to understand, be upfront with why the divorce or separation happened.
Disillusion In Future Marriage Prospects
It is not uncommon for children with divorced parents to have a disillusioned attitude toward marriage in their adult lives. This connection makes sense because they frequently feel as if they’ve seen how marriage can fail and want to avoid heartache.
Studies have also reflected that this can also spill over into how adults with divorced parents operate in the dating world. They often don’t look for deep connections and have trouble opening up enough to make a deep and long-lasting one.
While this list may make you cringe, it is critical to put all of this information into context. Understanding the issues that your child may face as a result of their parents’ divorce is half the battle. There is no guarantee that your child will suffer from any or all of these sociological issues.
Yet, if they do, you’ll have the understanding and compassion to be there for them. Helping them to understand and process a divorce or separation.