Psychologists Say: 20 Ways Divorce Affects Young Kids Even Years Later

Marriage is supposed to be forever. Yet, plenty of unions just plain and simple don't work out. When marriages end, children of divorce have to pick up the pieces and move on, just as their parents do. Unfortunately, moving on can be a tough process and countless studies have demonstrated the effects of divorce on young kids.

So, if you're contemplating divorce, get all the facts first. In the USA, 827,261 marriages ended in divorce in 2016, based on figures from the CDC. Meanwhile across the border, forty-one percent of marriages in Canada are doomed to fail, even if they last up to thirty years before they finally end, according to CBC.

Since divorce is a fact of life for many kids in the USA, Canada, and everywhere else, it's important to understand that its effects on children are frequently adverse and long-term.

Parents who split up need to know what their children are likely to go through and that the healing process isn't going to be an overnight thing. Knowledge is power, so the twenty facts on this list will give loving moms and dads the capacity to understand how their kids feel, right after the divorce and years later.

Parents who take care to learn about how children react to divorce long-term, whether they are toddlers, tweens, teens or young adults, will be able to soothe and support their children. Children of divorce need and deserve affection, help, and compassion.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

20 they Continue to Blame Themselves


Children of divorce often feel responsible for the divorces of their parents. According to Psycholog Today, even the smartest children of divorce are prone to self-blame.

Divorce hurts kids and the effects are sometimes long-lasting. Adult children of divorce have reported losing the motivation to study, experiencing feelings of apathy and feeling awkward about inviting other kids over to their homes because of all of the stress in their homes.

Parents need to understand that their kids are fragile and need a lot of love. Parents need to move past their own emotional pain and focus on helping their kids.

19 Custody Arrangements Leave Lasting Impacts

Via: Imgur

Do kids suffer when parents share custody? One psychologist, Penelope Leach, thinks so.

According to The Telegraph, she says that younger children are particularly prone to emotional damage that happens because they split their time between Mom and Dad.

When children are young, their brains are developing and the impact of sleeping over with a parent whom they don't typically live with may adversely impact their brain development.

Of course, brain development in the early years will play a pivotal role in who the child becomes later on. While Leach's views have triggered some backlash, they are worth considering.

18 it's Harder for them to Connect With Others As They Age

Via: sandra

Divorce often leaves kids with trust issues that make it more difficult for them to connect with other people, according to Science Direct. Unfortunately, according to a scientific study, a lot of kids continue to be affected for years to come.

Their difficulty to process the situation creates stress and makes it more difficult for them to form lasting attachments when they are older. Parents who want to help may wish to encourage their children to socialize outside of school hours, at safe places that feature child-friendly activities, such as sports or games.

Parents should also welcome their children's friends into their homes regularly.

17 it Has Inter-generational Effects


A study by the Australian Parliament showed that kids only truly begin to feel the effects when their parents' divorce is finally finalized. It's only then that feelings hit their apex.

Adults who divorce do tend to recover after the divorce papers are finally signed. Kids suffer for longer and part of the reason why is the inter-generational effects, according to Marripedia.

Divorces tend to scatter families geographically and take certain family members out of "family systems". Weaker relationships are the end result. Plus, kids of divorced parents have double the odds of getting divorced. Divorce just makes life harder for most kids, in so many ways.

16 they suffer socially and psychologically For Many Years


According to the Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, children of divorce are at higher risk of experiencing social and psychological problems. This is bad news for kids of divorce, as these problems may continue for years unless they are treated effectively.

Post-divorce families undergo a lot of changes and children may experience heightened anxiousness as a result of the changes. Parents who care will need to help their children handle the changes. Sometimes, therapy appointments are good options.

Kids may feel safe talking to therapists about what they are going through, whether they're alone or with the rest of the family.

15 they Usually End up In Reduced Circumstances For Years


When there is a divorce, financial circumstances often change. For example, a woman who used to care for the kids full-time may end up needing to work full-time at a low-paying job in order to pay the family bills because child support payments aren't enough.

According to Tandfonline, children are often casualties when it comes to experiencing reduced circumstances after divorce.

Maintaining a child's pre-divorce standard of living after the marital breakdown can be tough. Both parents need to work together to make sure that children get what they need, even if they don't live as well as they did before.

14 The worse the Conflict, The Longer they Suffer

Via Change.org

This one is a bit of a no-brainer. Kids who see a lot of fighting in the home before divorce, followed by sitting back and watch and Mom and Dad war it out in court (or out of court) are probably going to be traumatized.

That kind of trauma may take years to go away. According to the Scientificamerican, the recovery rate for kids whose parents weren't at war is typically faster and some kids recover well.

Kids who've seen a lot of unpleasant things, before, during and after the divorce, will need more assistance in order to heal emotionally.

13 Teens Are More Likely To Struggle


Divorce is a painful childhood event which may set the stage for substance abuse in adolescence. A scientific study posted at Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov shows that the threat of dependence on substances is higher in children of divorce and that this risk extends into early adulthood.

In the study, adolescents who went through parental divorce had their first substance eleven percent earlier than adolescents who didn't go through it.

Adolescents may try to bury the pain that lingers after divorce through underage use of legal substances or use of illicit substances. It's important to give kids guidance...and keep an eye on them.

12 they Are More Likely To Become Depressed


Kids who watch their parents divorce are more likely to suffer from depression when they are adults, according to Tandfonline.

A study of over forty-seven hundred adults of both genders showed that adult children of divorce are more likely to succumb to depression due to financial issues and/or relationship problems.

This Belgian study found a direct link between parental divorce and depression in adult children. While all of the news posted in this list sounds bad, there will be children of divorce who do just fine. It's wise to know the possible pitfalls...and then parent as best you can.

11 They Are More Likely To Have Health Problems


Stress has the power to make people ill and children of divorce are no exception. According to the Very Well Family, kids with parents who are divorced are at higher risk for headaches, injuries, speech impediments and asthma than children whose parents stay married.

After divorce, kids are at 50 percent higher risk for health problems than kids who live with two parents. Variables beyond stress may impact kids' health after divorce. Poor nutrition due to poverty is one example.

Every post-divorce family is different, but all parents definitely need to be very mindful of their children's health after marital breakdowns.

10 They Tend To Get Lower Grades


Kids with divorced parents have double the risk of dropping out of high school, compared to their peers who live in two-parent homes, as per Very Well Family.

While there is lots of doom and gloom with this list, let's not forget that kids of divorced parents can move onto inspiring success. Some kids are able to rise above adversity and achieve, even though they've had to deal with parental divorces.

Barack Obama is one example. If you've been divorced, give your child academic backup. Help with homework, provide moral support and be present for parent-teacher meetings.

9 Adult Children Of Divorce Don’t Make As Much Money


According to a scientific study referenced at Very Well Family, grown-up children of divorce tend to earn less and have less college on their resumes than kids who grew up in two-parent homes.

Divorces leave a legacy which may be detrimental to the lives of adult children. All parents can really do is recognize the negatives and try to counteract them. Parents should encourage their kids to stay in school and develop ambitions that will lead to good pay and financial stability.

Parents should be vigilant about providing advice and support to teens as they prepare for their future careers.

8 they Often Go Long Periods Of Time Without Seeing Their Fathers


Did you know that a UK study, which was referenced by The Guardianshowed that thirty-five percent of kids never or rarely see the parent that they don't live with?

In most cases, that's Dad. It's quite common for kids to see Dad a lot less after divorce. This is something that surely causes children so much pain.

It's rough when you're used to being with a father in the family home, every day and night, and then see him only once in a while. It's a huge life change and the impact of it will endure for years.

7 they Hang Onto Divided Senses Of Loyalty


In some divorces, kids who are older need to decide who they want to live with. Their decisions often indicate where their loyalty lies.

One of the downsides of divorce is that kids sometimes feel like they have to pick a side.

In certain cases, kids may be very supportive of one parent, according to Irish Times. Lots of conflicts may emerge as kids pick a side, or the courts decide for them. It's true that some divorcing parents manage to work things out amicably, but there are families where kids do pick sides and the ramifications of those decisions last for a long time.

6 One-quarter Of them Have Emotional Issues


According to Mediate, one-quarter of children of divorce experience significant emotional, social and psychological issues. Only ten percent of kids from non-divorced families do.

A divorce often takes away the child's sense of having a safety net at home. Everything changes and the child has to deal with the hurt, on top of the difference in lifestyle. It's a lot for a child to deal with, so it's understandable that kids have problems.

Usually, the damage doesn't last forever. For at least two years, a child may show signs of being disturbed. Some kids get stronger because of what they've been through.

5 Children 16 Or Younger Have The Worst Long-term Effects


It makes sense that kids who are 16 or younger when their parents split up will suffer the worst long-term effects. They are more vulnerable when divorces happen, according to Deepblue.lib.umich.edu.

However, parental love and support will go a long way, so don't despair if you're the Mom of an under-16 and you're going through a divorce. While the stats don't always paint a pretty picture, kids may be soothed with love, calm discussions and distractions.

As a Mom, you can do so much to make your child happy, even through he or she is definitely going to be sad sometimes.

4 they May Feel Anxious For Years

Via Anxiety.org

Anxiety after trauma, such as divorce, is to be expected. Unfortunately, it doesn't go away too quickly. Kids of divorce often experience feelings of anxiety for years after their parents break up, according to Researchgate.net.

It's really terrible that kids have to go through this stuff. It makes me wonder if the old-fashioned policy of "staying together for the kids" was really the smartest thing that parents could do.

Kids who are very anxious should talk to their doctors and may benefit from therapy. Don't assume that your child won't suffer from anxiety because he or she older. The stats show otherwise.

3 it can be a Stressful environment even Years later

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS - "To Plea or Not To Plea" -  (ABC Family/Eric McCandless)

Information at Researchgate.net shows that family homes of the "post-divorce" type are often stressful places for kids to live. For example, the "residential" parent might be heartbroken, or angry, or exhausted from dealing with the emotional and legal issues that divorce brings.

There are many reasons why family homes become more stressful places after marital breakups. Kids may need to move, too, or get used to being "suitcase kids", who go from one home to the other.

Homes should be havens, but divorce tends to rock the boat for a long time. Parents need to do what they can to make homes safe and pleasant spaces.

2 Conduct Disorder May Become A Fact Of Life


Kids may act out because they are children of divorce. In some cases, according to Researchgate.net, kids of divorce develop conduct disorder.

This is often a precursor for serious problems down the line, such as legal problems related to criminal activities. A lot of people who develop an antisocial personality disorder, which is characterized by lack of conscience, have been diagnosed with conduct disorder when they were younger.

This doesn't mean that every child with conduct disorder won't grow out of it, but some will likely get worse. Parents should make sure that kids learn good values, before, during and after divorce.

1 they May Experience Long-Term Loneliness


Loneliness is part of the human condition. Some people enjoy being alone more than others.

Kids of divorce may find that loneliness takes hold and becomes a long-term problem. According to Researchgate, kids who have divorced parents are more likely to feel all alone in the world. Parents can brighten the days of their children, regardless of their ages, just by being there.

They can hang out, cook, watch TV and make a child laugh. Moms should focus on strengthening their bonds with their children after divorce. They should also prompt their kids to make social connections which ease their loneliness.

References: Cbc.ca, Psychologytoday.com, Telegraph.co.uk, Sciencedirect.com, Marripedia.com, Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, Tandfonline.com, Scientificamerican.com, Tandfonline.com, Verywellfamily.com, Guardian.co.uk, Irishtimes.com, Mediate.com, Deepblue.lib.umich.edu, and Researchgate.net.

More in Parenting