The Psychological Effect of Divorce on Children

March 1, 2012
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“Folks, the Bruins have done it! They’re the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions!” Everyone in the room jumps up with joy and excitement, except for James. It’s not the same without his father there. No Bruins game had ever been the same since his parents had gotten divorced. A boy needs a stable male role model in his life to guide him and share the experiences with him that he will encounter throughout the way. These melancholy emotions James is feeling, amongst other things, is a result of his parents divorce. Divorce can have very negative psychological effects on children.
Statistics show that two out of five children will experience the divorce of their parents before they reach the age of eighteen. With that fact in mind, attending a school with close to one thousand students can, technically, result in around four hundred students who have experienced the heartbreak of divorce. This traumatic experience can leave a child mentally unstable and depressed. The mind of a small child and of a growing teenager observes and absorbs everything around them. If parents fight constantly or ignore each other, those acts can be learned by the child and later used in life. When a child goes through divorce, since it is usually a distressing experience, they will remember every detail of how their parents acted toward each other. Later in life, this can cause anxiety problems, depression or anger. When this child finally gets married, they will usually be more paranoid about the marriage and be very suspicious about their spouse’s actions, trying to relate them to their past experiences. With the paranoia and apprehensiveness, this can cause problems in the relationship, which can later result in divorce.

Another experience that can occur to the child in result to divorce is what is known as the “sleeper effect”. What this means is that the child will recover quickly from the divorce and basically tuck those negative emotions away deep in their minds, as if they were sweeping them under the rug. They may think they have forgotten the grief but it is actually now at a subconscious level. Many years later, something they see, smell, touch, hear or taste can easily set them off and they will be flooded with suppressed emotions.

With the inevitability of eventually meeting up with their bottled-up sentiments, the child usually has to deal with the complicated living conditions. Unless a parent is granted sole custody, the child will typically switch from household to household. This causes friction in the child’s relationships with their friends as well as the stability of their life. Going from one home environment to another can be difficult to adjust to.

Unfortunately, with all the complications that divorce causes, it also comes with resentment, unhappiness, hopelessness, impulsiveness, aggression and much more. Sadly, when all of these psychological mishaps are combined, suicide can be the end result. People who commit suicide are not in their right mind. When you put the hardships of divorce upon a child’s shoulders, it can crush them underneath.

In our society, we are seeing more and more divorce, from Kim Kardashian’s seventy-two day marriage scandal to Heidi Kium and Seal’s beautiful marriage gone sour. We need to learn to respect the vows of marriage to save generations after us psychological heartbreak and pain.

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