Divorce can take its toll on the entire family; it’s especially difficult for kids of all ages. When a child learns that their parents are ending their marriage, they often react negatively. Each child is different, but the following behaviors and feelings are common:
Experiencing a range of emotions
Kids experience a range of emotions when their parents go through a divorce. This may include shock, anger, fear, sadness and even guilt. A child may even feel embarrassed and worry about how their peers will view them with their family situation drastically changing. Many kids also feel lonely and can withdraw into themselves.
Loss of interest
A loss of interest in friends and hobbies can also occur. When a child learns that their parents plan to divorce, they can become consumed by the situation, losing interest in the people and things they ordinarily enjoy. Kids of all age groups may be affected in this way by divorce.
Sadly, some kids end up engaging in destructive behavior as a way to deal with divorce. This could involve general rebellion or dangerous new habits such as smoking, underage drinking and drug abuse. Some kids fall in with the wrong crowd while trying to cope with their parents’ divorce and even engage in crimes like theft.
Increased health problems
Divorce can even affect kids’ physical and mental health. They may have trouble sleeping, lose their appetite and suffer from a weakened immune system, increasing the risk of illness. Their mental health can also suffer as they obsess over the divorce; some kids develop anxiety or depression. Eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia can also occur.
It’s normal for kids to go through problems during and after a divorce. Most will be able to move forward after some time has passed.