A divorce is difficult for every single person involved, especially children. However, most people aren’t aware of the actual effects of a divorce on a child.
The Effect of Divorce on Children
The effects of divorce can depend tremendously on the situations of the divorce and how the divorce is handled amongst the family members. In a study by Demo & Acock showed that the most common effects of a divorce on children can include a reduction in self-control, rising anxiety, decreasing self-esteem, increased detachment to their parents, increased tendency in future delinquent activities, and more.
However, the study also showed that rather than the divorce itself, it is increased conflict at the home that causes the above effects. Between an intact couple that frequently fights and a divorced couple that does not have any hostility, the latter can possibly be the better situation for the child.
Anecdotal evidence also suggests that if handled maturely, a divorce might even have some benefits on the development of a child, including improved emotional strength, greater maturity, and a stronger understanding of marriage.
How to Inform Your Children on Impending Divorce
How you will inform your child on an impending divorce will of course be ultimately decided between the you and your co-parent. However, here are some important things to keep in mind:
- Explain the situation honestly and gently: Never in any way try and deceive your child into thinking that the situation is not what it appears, or that the separation is not real. Be as clear, and as gentle in your explanation as much as possible.
- Clarify that the divorce is not the child’s fault: Often, children in divorce situations will adopt the belief that they are somehow at fault for the divorce. Stress that this is not the case, and that they are still very much loved by their parents.
- Be attentive and responsive to their concerns and questions: Most likely your child will have some questions of their own. Make sure that you never ignore their concerns, and are responsive, and attentive in addressing their thoughts.
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