Divorce: How Does It Affect Children?

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Divorce: How does it affect children?
Over 60 percent of couples seeking a divorce have children still living at home. ( 6) What some parents don't realize when they file for a divorce is the damage and effect that it will have on their kids. Divorce affects children in many ways. It affects kids emotionally and causes them to experience painful feelings such as fear, loss, anger and confusion. Divorce also hurts a child's academic achievement. Children whose parents divorce generally have poorer scores on tests and a higher dropout rate. (3) Children react differently yet similarly in divorce. Every child caught up in the distress of divorce has a hard time coping with it and imagining their life without a parent. Their anxiety levels peak as they feel they are going to be abandoned. They experience feelings of loneliness due to the loss of the other parent. Different children go through these emotions at different levels and at different times depending on the child's age. How bad or how well children handle the divorce depends on how the situation is handled. It can throw the child's entire life into a whirlwind. Young children, up to age five or six, are the most confused and the most disoriented by their parents' separation. They often fear they are going to be abandoned by their parents, which causes great anxiety. The loss of a parent is extremely sad to a child of this age because they feel that their needs are not going to be attended to as well as they had before, when their needs are not going to be attended to as well as they had before, when their family was together. Many of the children in this group are worried that they will be left without a family or their parents might have money troubles and they will be deprived of food and toys. These thoughts that children of this age have cause them to have feelings of guilt, being unloved and fear of being alone. Some children will be extremely sad and show signs of depression and even sleeplessness. They might feel rejected by the parent who left and think that it is all their fault, that they weren't good children and their parents stopped loving them. They also sometimes have increased tantrums, or may cry more easily than usual. Children at this age may develop physical complaints, like headaches, or stomachaches due to this depressing situation and time they are going through. Psychologists Judith Wallerstine and Kelly interviewed and studied children of different ages whose parents were divorced, to see the impact divorce had caused these kids. "They blame themselves for their parents' breakup" exclaimed Wallerstine "one child felt that her play had been too noisy, while another thought that daddy didn't like her dog". ( 4) School age children experience some of the same problems as younger children, but they usually display more signs of anger, worry or sadness. Some children of this age group act like "they don't care" about the fact that their parents are getting a divorce and others will simply deny that their parents are getting a divorce. Others will choose sides and blame the divorce on only one parent. They start expressing more anger toward the " bad " parent, meaning the one they accuse for ruining things. In this age group, half of the children that were studied by Wallerstine and Kelly reported feeling rejected by one or both parents, and in general, almost all children received less attention because their parents were worried about their own problems during this difficult time. (4) All of this, from the rejection of the parent to the anger and the stress within the child,causes a significant disruption in the child's ability to participate freely in the learning process. Anxiety, restlessness, inability to concentrate and disturbing thoughts about the separation all contribute to this disruption and lead to a drop in school performance. Like the younger group, these children will also become...
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