Divorce: Different Ways it Can Psychologically Affect Your Children

Angry couples getting divorce
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  • Divorce is expected in the US, with 50-60% of couples opting to end their marriages.
  • Effects of divorce on children include anxiety, depression, changes in behavior, contempt towards marriage, sibling rivalry, self-blame, and guilt.
  • Children need emotional support during divorce. Parents can help through therapy, communication, and date nights.
  • One in three children under 18 will live through a divorce or separation from their parents.
  • Divorce can impact a child’s life in various ways, and taking steps to mitigate any adverse effects is crucial.

A divorce is a life-changing event that can be traumatic for couples who end their marriage and their children. Ending a marriage is devastating and can cause children emotional, social, and psychological issues. As a parent, it is essential to understand that divorce can impact your children in various ways, and taking steps to mitigate any adverse effects is crucial.

Divorce in the U.S.

Divorce is common in the United States, with 50-60% of couples opting to end their marriages. The CDC reports that one in three children under 18 will live through a divorce or separation from their parents.

Effects on Children

When parents decide to divorce, it can substantially affect their children’s lives. It is natural for children to feel sadness, loss, guilt, and confusion when their parents split up. Common emotions experienced by children of divorce can include shock, fear, anxiety, anger, depression, and loneliness. They may also worry about being abandoned or not having enough parental attention. Here’s a closer look into how divorce can affect children and what you can do to prevent it.

Sad child in swing set

Anxiety and Depression

Divorce can cause profound anxiety and depression in children. Children may feel their world has fallen apart, with their parents no longer living together. They may feel isolated, neglected, or abandoned. As a result, it’s not uncommon for children to experience anxiety or sadness, which can manifest in several ways, such as trouble forming meaningful relationships, poor academic performance, or social withdrawal.

Change In Behavior

Divorce can change the behavior of children. Depending on their age and ability to comprehend the situation, children may start exhibiting discipline issues, including defiance, aggression, or anger. They may experience significant changes in their daily routine, including living arrangements and parenting time. These changes can cause fear, anger, and confusion, and as a result, your children might experience difficulties coping in social situations with friends or family members they don’t see regularly.

Contempt Towards Marriage And Trust Issues

Another way divorce can affect children is by creating contempt toward the institution of marriage. Children may associate the feeling of confusion, hurt, or loss of trust with marriage. As a result, they may believe that marriage is meaningless or unimportant and that relationships are destined to fail. Children scarred by divorce may experience difficulties having long-term relationships or struggle to trust their partners.

Siblings Rivalry

Divorce can create rivalries between siblings. Children may feel that the attention is focused on their parents and their struggles and may perceive their siblings as competition for the affection of their parents. This can cause resentment, sibling rivalry, and even long-lasting conflicts.

Self-Blame And Guilt

Children who witness their parent’s divorce may internalize the feeling of blame, as though the separation is their fault. Children may blame themselves when their parents fight and assume they have a role to play in the failure of their parent’s marriage. This can negatively impact their self-esteem, and parents must help their children understand that they are not the reason for their parent’s separation.

Ways to Avoid Divorce

Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to prevent a divorce or reduce its impact on your children. These include:

Avoiding divorce with legal help


Most of the time, you’ll need professional help to get through a divorce. Get help from an experienced marriage therapist who can be impartial and provide unbiased advice to both parties. They can help you communicate better with your partner and resolve any issues. Moreover, they can help your children cope with their emotions and adjust to their new life.


A lack of communication is one of the most common reasons marriages fail. Communication is essential to a healthy marriage. Communication helps build trust, respect, and intimacy. It is essential to communicate openly with your spouse, be honest, and express your feelings.

Listening to your spouse is also a crucial component of communication. Listen to what they say and take the time to understand their perspective. You can solve conflicts and develop solutions to keep your marriage strong through communication.

Date Night

As couples settle into their married lives, they often forget to make time for each other. Date night is a great way to keep the romance alive. Make it a priority to schedule a date night with your spouse and commit to it. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. You can go for a walk, picnic, or watch a movie. The point is to spend quality time together, away from the stress of everyday life. It can help to reignite the spark that brought you two together and help you remember why you fell in love.

Marriage is a journey, and it takes commitment to make it work. Divorce can be difficult for children and lead to emotional and psychological issues. Taking steps to prevent divorce is essential, and if divorce is inevitable, taking steps to minimize its impact on your children is also critical. By doing so, you can avoid the long-term effects of divorce on your children.

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