Divorce, by its very nature, presents a turbulent period for all those affected by it; the parents as well as the children. While the latest available statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that there has been a decrease in divorces granted, the figure still remains high – 103,592 divorces granted in England and Wales.
In divorce cases that have to consider the interests of the children, their welfare becomes a critical concern. The most commonly seen effects of divorce on children, according to FamilyMeans, range from mental health issues to destructive behavioural concerns.
Reeling in the professional advice and guidance of family solicitors Portsmouth can be of immense help in smoothing the transitional period of divorce and making the right decision in the best interests of the children.
Common difficulties children experience when parents divorce
There is no getting around the sense of loss children feel when their parents get a divorce. This sense of loss plays out on an emotional level: confusion, anxiety and anger, and on a physical level when there is a change in physical living environment or standards. Divorce robs children of the stability they once knew.
Feelings of rejection, worry and fear can be intense, such that these feelings lead to changes in behaviour and attitude.
Poor academic performance at school is one of the most obvious signs that a child is not coping with a divorce. The emotional upheaval they are experiencing leaves them distracted and unable to concentrate on academics leading to a drop in performance.
Older children are more likely to engage in risky behaviours, with some resorting to drug and alcohol abuse and early sexual activity and others to criminal activities. Such destructive behavioural patterns may be born out of anger and fears of instability.
It is not uncommon to find that children can withdraw into themselves and lose interest in social activities. Social withdrawal may be attributed to changes in self-esteem and lack of confidence.
Sleep and eating issues are other areas children may struggle with during the upheaval of a divorce. Feelings of anxiety can trigger nightmares, and some children may even begin to believe in outlandish beings.
Mental health issues such as depression caused by parents getting divorced may be a top concern for parents, especially as the risk of attempting suicide is greatly increased.
In the long term, children who experience their parents going through a divorce are more likely to encounter problems in their relationships in adulthood or they may develop a negative attitude toward relationships in general.
The decisions parents make when going through divorce proceedings can play an instrumental role in helping children cope better with the anxieties and insecurities linked to divorce. It is important to maintain open and honest communication with children and show them they are loved.
It is par for the course for children to initially struggle with the thought of the family unit disintegrating, but with the right familial and professional support, this process can be made somewhat easier.