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Family

5 ways divorce destroys your children

Posted March 10

As a parent, your children will be impacted by your divorce, no matter their age. To help them through this damaging decision, understand the ways divorce destroys your kids:

1. Your children feel resentment

Your child might feel resentful towards one or both parents, especially if they know why their parents separated. Because of this, it’s important to consider how much your children should know about what led to the divorce.

Psychiatrist and relationship researcher Scott Haltzman used the example of infidelity when it came to sharing information with your kids. He said when determining whether or not to tell your children about an affair, you should ask yourself these two questions: Am I telling them to vent or inflict damage on my spouse? Am I sharing this knowledge with them because this is information they should know?

These questions could be applied to telling your children about almost any reason for divorce.

2. Your children feel abandoned

If a parent walks out on their spouse, a child might think that parent is walking out on them, too. They might feel abandoned and insecure. Reassure your child that even though mom and dad are not married anymore, they aren't being abandoned.

3. Your children start to question their own relationships

Even if your children are grown up and married, they might start to doubt their own relationships once they know their parents have divorced. Divorce coach Christina McGhee says that parents help shape their children’s thoughts on marriage and family. She recommends being honest with your children about the divorce to help them learn from your experience and maintain a healthy and loving relationship with their own partner.

4. Your children might take the blame

This is typically seen in younger children who might not understand the reasons for the divorce. Because they don't understand, they put blame themselves for mommy and daddy getting divorce. Make sure your child knows that both their parents love them more than anything and that they aren’t the reason for the divorce.

5. Your children are always affected by it

Psychologist Judith Wallerstein studied 131 children whose parents divorced when the kids were between three and 18 years old. She found that 25 years following the divorce, the participants were still affected by fear of conflict, fear of failure and even fear of love.

In fact, one-third of the participants were pessimistic about marriage. But that doesn’t mean they wanted to avoid relationships altogether. Sixty percent of women and 40 percent of men in the study developed lasting romantic relationships despite this pessimism and fear surrounding marriage.

The effects of divorce will forever be present in the children’s lives. “Full ‘recovery’ is nearly impossible for children because of the dynamic nature of family life,” said attorney Amy Desai. “While you and your ex-spouse's lives may go on separately with relatively little thought, your children will think about their loss almost every day.”

The positive outcomes

The negative side of divorce is extensively researched, but there are some situations where divorce is the best (and safest) option. In cases of emotional and physical abuse, getting out of the relationship might be better for both you and your children, regardless of any negative outcomes that come along with it. If you have concerns about getting a divorce, talk to a therapist; they can help you find the best solution for you and your family.

By knowing the ways divorce impacts your children, you can help them through this difficult stage in their life. Even if your relationship with your spouse is over, you can still have a strong relationship with your children.

Shaelynn Miller is a journalist who has a passion for photography, video production and writing.

Contact her at smiller@deseretdigital.com.

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