England and Wales’ divorce levels are at their lowest since 1973. However, if you’re experiencing a divorce, it’s important that you don’t lose sight of what’s important and consider the implications on your child’s mental health. This will undoubtedly have negative effects on your children, after all, it’s their family too.
Not all divorces are traumatic events that are drawn out over years, but they can cause intense distress. For all children of divorce, no matter their age, their family dividing in half can be very upsetting. So, in this article, we will explore how this can affect children, and how you can minimise damage.
Whether your child is still using baby buggies or 16, the amount of change they will experience will have significant effects on their mental health. For a younger child progressing through their developmental years, having one parent moving out of the house can be confusing.
At a younger age, the child will not understand why one of their parents have left and may blame themselves. There is research to suggest that an older child can come to terms with divorce easier than minors. Despite this, they are the most likely to bear the brunt of the effect of change. The breakdown of a marriage could mean them moving to a new house, moving school, or no longer seeing one of their parents. It could also mean the family is less well-off financially. For example, in the past, your child may have been able to go away on a school trip each year with their friends, whether it be skiing or a pre-summer break where they send you a lovely postcard.
At some point, there will be two mortgages being paid rather than one, and a smaller income. So, there won’t be as much money to afford the majority of ‘wants’ in life. This will irritate and upset a child who has grown accustomed to such a lifestyle. This strain at work may even cause you to seek assistance from family law solicitors.
A failure to understand a situation can develop into frustration, and in many cases, this can result in anger. Often, with one parent absent, the consistent level of discipline that was once there has now been removed. Rather than dishing out punishment for bad behaviour, try to understand the position in which the child finds themselves.
Don’t be furious with your child. Remember, they are currently going through a rollercoaster of emotions. Therefore, be patient and take into consideration the way you are acting around them.
Children notice things that you might not realise. So, if one parent is badmouthing another, they are likely to pick up on this and replicate it. Although the situation between both co-parents may be rather toxic, for the sake of the child’s emotional stability, communication is key. Monitoring behaviour around both parents, particularly if they are now living in different homes, is an effective way to quash any behavioural issues.
A steady and secure education is imperative in maintaining a child’s mental health. Research has discovered that children who grow up in a two-parent, married family are more likely to do better at school. They are more likely to be less disruptive in class, and less aggressive towards other classmates. In terms of their academic performance, children whose parents’ marriage is intact are more likely to do their work without being forced.
The BBC conducted a survey in 2014 which revealed that 65 per cent of children of divorce performed worse than expected in their GCSE results, while 44 per cent also said their A-Level results had suffered. Resolution, who conducted the research, proposed that the disruption of moving school could be at fault for the exam results.
Although divorce can affect your children, it’s definitely the right thing to do if you’re not happy. You might think it’s a good idea to stay together for the child, but this exposes them to an unhappy environment. With the right support and understanding, your child will accept the divorce and get used to their new family dynamic.