Divorce can have many psychological effects on a child. When a marriage ends in divorce, a child of the marriage may view the divorce the same as if a parent has died. During the period following a parental separation a child may have feelings of denial, anxiety, abandonment, anger, guilt, depression and conflicts of loyalty. Because of the pain and emotional damage the child is sure to suffer, many parents stay in a dysfunctional marriage believing it is the best thing for their child. There are some cases where staying together for the sake of the child can actually be detrimental to the child. A parent can diminish the negative effects of a divorce by supporting and reassuring their children, before, during and after the separation. A parent can rebuild the child’s sense of security by reestablishing stability. If parents do not take the time to address the emotional needs of the child during the process of a divorce, parents can damage their relationship with their child and the emotional development of the child.
Keywords: Divorce, Psychological effects, Children
Divorce is a stressful time for every member of a family. The psychological effects of a child during this stressful time depend in part on the age of the child and the parents’ ability to control their emotions and to work together to sooth and reassure the child. Hetherington and Stanley-Hagan (1999) believe children in this age group are too young to understand what is happening. Even though these children may not understand what is happening between their parents, they may sense the distress their parents are feeling, and react negatively. According to Cohen (2002), “Infants and children younger than 3 years may reflect their caregivers’ distress, grief, and preoccupation; they often show irritability, increased crying, fearfulness, separation anxiety, sleep and gastrointestinal