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Negative Side Effects of Divorce on the Family

Is your marriage over? Are you in the process of thinking about getting a divorce? Whatever path you are on at the moment, it is always important to weigh up the pros and cons before making a decision.

Divorce is a big decision. It can be a really stressful time in the life of any family. If your marriage has ended, or if you are thinking about getting a divorce, then you might be thinking about what the negative effects will be on your family.

Sadly, divorce poses a few negative effects on the family. Most effects are short-lived, but for those who suffer great trauma, effects can last a lifetime.

So what are the negative effects that divorce can have on a family? Keep reading to find out!

  1. Divorce can have a negative effect on the relationship between the parents and their children
    According to Online Divorce and Marripedia, when parents get divorced, a child’s relationship with their parents suffers. Often times, the mother receives custody of their children, and the children become more distant from their fathers after a divorce. Though this is not always the case, studies have shown that fathers tend to offer less emotional support to their children after a divorce. (Heidi R. Riggio, “Parental Marital Conflict and Divorce, Parent-Child Relationships, Social Support, and Relationship Anxiety in Young Adulthood,” Personal Relationships 11, (2004): 106.)

    Another problem is that during and after a divorce, parents are usually struggling with their own emotions and stress. Without knowing it, they could be giving their children less attention while they are trying to figure out their own emotions. This is normal and expected, but parents need to try their best to work together to help their children feel as secure as possible. Fathers need to still be present in their children’s lives after a divorce. The best way for the father to do this is by sticking to his visitation schedule, by calling his kids daily, and by making sure that he is a part of their lives. Moms still have to try their best, despite any emotional pain they may be suffering, to always be present for their kids. If both parents do this, then their relationships with their children can continue to grow. A child will feel more secure if both parents work together to try and keep things as normal as possible.

  2. Trust will be affected during a divorce
    Studies have shown that children who come from divorced families tend to trust their parents less. (Valarie King, “Parental Divorce and Interpersonal Trust in Adult Offspring,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 64, no.3 (2002): 642.) Often times, trust is broken during a divorce, especially if cheating or lying played a role in causing the divorce. When trust is broken between parents, the children feel a lack of trust in their parents as well. This could also be because after divorce, the parent/child relationship can be less close.
  3. Children leave home earlier if they come from divorced families
    Studies have shown that children tend to leave home earlier if they come from broken homes. (Andrew J. Cherlin, Kathleen E. Kiernan, and P. Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, “Parental Divorce in Childhood and Demographic Outcomes in Young Adulthood,” Demography 32, (1995): 299-316.) The more unhappy parents are in their marriages, the earlier children leave home to get married, live by themselves or cohabit. More studies have shown that children living with stepfamilies are more likely to run away from home than children who come from intact families. Another report showed that only 70% of children who run away from stepfamilies are likely to return. If children are unhappy at home, they are going to look for a way out of that situation which could include getting married or moving out. Conversely, children that are happy at home will want to stay there longer.
  4. Your children’s grades can suffer
    Many children suffer academically after a divorce. Their grades begin to slip. This can happen mainly because of stress. Children often feel depressed after a parent’s divorce, and this can make it hard for a child to concentrate on school work. If you notice that your child is suffering from depression, or is acting out, then it might be time to seek professional help to assist your child to cope with the emotions that they are feeling.
  5. Divorce can be traumatic for all involved.
    Divorce can cause trauma for the entire family. Young children whose parents go through a divorce are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and phobias later in life. They might also develop issues with insecurity, which could make it harder for them to have fulfilling relationships.

    Adolescents whose parents are going through a divorce can become more willing to partake in risky behaviors, such as drug abuse, illicit sex, and drinking.

  6. Even grandparents can be affected because of divorce.
    Yes, this is true. If there is a divorce, one parent might move away, taking the children with them. As a result, children will see their grandparents less, and this affects a child’s relationship with their grandparents. Paternal grandparents especially seem to have a harder time with keeping a relationship going with their grandkids. (Janet Finch and Jennifer Mason, “Divorce, Remarriage and Family Obligations,” Sociological Review 38, (1990): 231-234.)

Divorce should always be the last option. Try to go for couples counseling to see if you can work things out, especially if you have children. If divorce is inevitable, then it is important to understand the effects that divorce can have on the entire family.

Divorce does have negative effects on the family, but those effects don’t always have to be so harsh. If families can try their best to co-parent their children together, despite their marriage ending, then children can still have happy lives.

A lot of the negative effects that divorce has on a family, depends on how you as parents handle the situation. If parents try to work together, for what’s best for their families, then this can lead to a more positive outcome.


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