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What are common reactions by children to their parents’ divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 17, 2023 | Child Custody |

Divorce is often the best solution to end unhappy and unhealthy marriages. Staying together for the wrong reasons typically ends up causing problems for everyone. But even when you know it’s for the best, your children will likely struggle to adjust to their new situation.

How your kids react depends mainly on their age, personality and the reasons behind the divorce. But it’s crucial to remember that the most significant factor about their future well-being isn’t about the past, but how much conflict remains between you and your ex.

Recognize these reactions and don’t overreact

Psychologists advise parents to be honest with kids about why the marriage ended (without sharing too many details) and what happens next. You can expect them to exhibit the following emotions:

  • Fear and anxiety about how their lives will change
  • For most children, sadness and grief can be overwhelming
  • They may blame one or both parents for the breakup
  • Some children will blame themselves or their behavior for the breakup
  • Some may act out at school or start showing other behavioral issues
  • You may witness a big change in their eating habits and sleep routines
  • They may begin to struggle with emotional attachments and loyalty issues
  • Some children become withdrawn and isolate themselves
  • Many children hold out hope that their parents will reconcile
  • Others will look at your divorce with a sense of relief

How you can support them

Divorced or separated parents often feel guilty when their children show any of these signs. But it’s essential to understand these feelings are normal and that you can’t control their emotions. But you can support them to make the transition as peaceful as possible. The most vital actions you can take include:

  • Staying calm
  • Staying involved in their lives
  • Staying supportive of their relationship with the other parent
  • Not badmouthing your ex in front of them
  • Telling them it’s OK to express their feelings
  • Creating a new routine and sticking to it
  • Taking time for yourself

Finally, if you or your kids feel overwhelmed by the situation, don’t hesitate to reach out to school counselors or professionals trained for these situations.