How Divorce Affects Kids

Developmental Disruptions

What is Emotional Distress?

Children’s Process during Separating


We all would agree children are the next generation. Now because kids are the next generation we need to talk about how divorce affects kids and their emotional distress. That is the title of this blog. “How divorce affects kids.” We need to also discuss the process of separating as well.” Current statistics tell us that 60% of marriages end in divorce. Only acts of war and the events of natural disasters are more harmful to a child’s psyche than the divorce process.” See also Newsletter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, summer 1997).

Separating clients end their marriage

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I’ve helped many couples over the last 15 years to save their marriage. But, on some occasions, clients chose to end their marriage and go separate ways. Sometimes you have to let the process takes its course. In most cases, the breakdown starts with a lack of communication. Which can lead to lack of intimacy, extra-marital affairs, substance abuse, and even domestic violence during the divorce process.


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How Parents Divorce Affects Kids- Statistics


According to the article, as many as 60% of marriages end in divorce. Wow, I say that is a lot of tension and arguments I bet! Now, this is regardless of socioeconomic status or cultural background. A child has the potential to be affected long-term by the divorce of his or her parents and the divorce process. At the very least, most children experience short-term developmental disruptions. They undergo a certain degree of emotional distress (Palosaari and Aro, 1994).

Children of Divorces- Parents Tension Arguments

Children of divorces often exhibit certain psychological, social, academic, and behavioral problems as well. (See Amato, Loomis, and Booth, 1995). While some of these impacts are short-term others are long-term and can continue well into adulthood.


How divorce affects kids divorce process

How divorce affects kids- Age groups


The age of children matters very much when it comes to divorce and the process of divorce. See it is not the same for all children and each age group in the divorce process. This is because each has its own challenges. There seems to be emotional distress for kids no matter the level or age group.

California Divorce Project Articles


The predominant feelings were anger, anxiety, and fear of abandonment. There was a pervasive sense of loss. One-half of the children were tearful and moody. In addition, one-third showed depressive symptoms such as sleeplessness, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating.

How divorce affects kids- Preschoolers


For preschoolers, there might be fear of abandonment issues so it is key to provide them with additional reassurance and feelings of security. Younger children may regress developmentally. For example such as wetting the bed or sucking a finger.

Childs Intense Feelings of Grief and Loss

Most sadness was experienced by 6-8-year-olds. They didn’t use fantasy as younger children to avoid reality. They missed their fathers intensely and were also grieving the loss. It is important to talk to them and acknowledge their intense feelings of grief and loss, especially during the divorce process.


Relieving Emotional Distress in the mountains

9-12 yr olds Tension Anger Arguments


Nine to twelve-year-olds reacted predominantly with anger which was typically directed toward the parent who appeared responsible for the divorce. What may help is to let them express their anger in a constructive way, including drawing and art therapy.

How dating affects kids- 13-18 yr old


On the other hand, teenagers, thirteen to eighteen-year-olds, reported being angry with their parents who started dating again. Which they experienced as competition with their own emerging sexuality. They also felt anxiety about whether the breakup and how this would affect their own relationships.

Low-conflict vs High-conflict Marriages

It is interesting to note that children who grew up in low-conflict marriages had a more difficult transition. It would appear they couldn’t understand why their parents are getting divorced. On the other hand, children in high-conflict marriages were somewhat relieved that their parents are separating. They felt some relief from tension and arguments. Maybe they were even welcoming the divorce process.


Children of divorces divorce process

How the process affects kids- Summation


In summary, children can be severely affected as a result of the divorce and the divorce process. The key is for parents to provide nurturing and support. To put their differences aside and instead focus on the well-being of the children and learn about co-parenting. Consistency is extremely important. This is so that children don’t experience two sets of rules which can be confusing for them. Thank you for reading my blog “How Divorce Affects Kids”. To help people such as separating parents deal with the potential tension arguments please share my work! Thanks again for reading.


Adopted from Bayside Continuing Education


For more information:


Laura Spencer Loomis’s research


Gillespie, Nick. (1997, Oct 1). The Divorce Culture


Parks, Paula Lynn (5/31/95) Breaking Up Is Hard To Do


tension arguments reduce stress with stone art process


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How divorce affects kids


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If you did enjoy reading “How divorce affects kids” and you are a “child of divorces” Contact Mateja Petje. For online therapy and to acquire help for yourself. For example, maybe your parents were in a “high-conflict marriage” and we can discuss therapy options.


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