Are These Short-Term Effects Avoidable? How Do We Help Our Children?
After repeatedly trying out everything that could save their relationship, Samantha and Bob just couldn’t do it anymore and decided to call it quits. Divorce is perhaps the most undesirable thing that could happen in a relationship. And in some cases, it is inevitable. As Donna M. White, LMHC, CACP explains, “All marriages are not salvageable. In the process of marriage counseling, some couples may discover it is healthier for them to be apart.”
Apparently, divorce as a concept is a very complicated thing, and only adults are expected to comprehend it fully. With that said, the effects of divorce on children is a whole new story. For example, in the US alone, children of divorced parents have a higher chance of getting divorced as well in the future, particularly up to 60% more than the average.
From short-term to long-term effects, divorce can have a lot of significant adverse impacts on your children.
“Divorce is not something that should never be entered into lightly. It means an end to that relationship and the breakup of a family, which can be greatly traumatizing to the children of that marriage.” Jennifer Baxt, LMFT, LMHC said. A child going through the effects of his parent’s divorce or separation can enter into a state of shock. That episode can last for a couple of months. Aside from this trauma, children may also feel a roller coaster of emotions like confusion, as well as the following mental health issues:
“An anxious or angry child is in flight-or-fight mode with their body primed to handle a perceived threat.” Carolyn Mehlomakulu, LMFT-S, ATR-BC said. Anxiety in children is more likely to happen than anxiety on adults especially in situations like a parent’s divorce. It is a mental health issue which can trigger any time after the revelation of the split-up. Anxiety can also lead to more problems such as impaired social communication, being too clingy, and fear of separation with the parent. It is short-term since children can cope with mild anxiety if you, the parent, will show love, care, and reassurance.
Children undergoing the process of parental separation are stressed out since they think that they are the reason behind the divorce. Who wouldn’t be stressed with that, right? It is a mental health issue that needs monitoring at all times. You have to help your child calm down when he is stressed. You will see physical manifestations of panic attacks, fear, stomach aches, body pains and nausea, among others.
Mood Swings and Irritability
Since the child is stressed out or mildly anxious, he may enter a state of volatility. Mood swings can affect a child’s social interaction, and it can have horrible long-term consequences.
A lot of emotions can run through the mind of a child, but in all of those feelings, nothing can affect a kid as much sadness. The separation anxiety from the parent who will not be holding custody can push a kid towards intense sorrow which can even develop into depression in the future, if not treated early on.
Disillusion And Distress
Once a child fully realizes that one of his parents is living away from him, he may feel a lack of emotional support. If the mom has the custody, the child may feel like he lacks the loving support of his father. The same thing goes if the child is with his dad, and is only seeing his mom a few times each month. It’s distressing for them.
Is It Avoidable? What Can We Do?
How do we answer the question of – is it avoidable? It is if you decide not to divorce your spouse, but let’s not fool each other here. You can’t be with this person any longer that’s why you’re divorcing. The only solution is for your child to undergo therapy or counseling.
Even if you don’t see any symptoms of your child, you need to bring him to a child psychiatrist after revealing your divorce plans. Your child needs help from an expert who understands the whole ordeal. You can go to counseling with your child, as well. This plan is an excellent way to reach out to one another and to avoid further communication problems in the future.