Separation & Divorce: Will the kids really be alright?

Divorce is a painful and emotionally challenging experience for everyone in the family to go through. Experiencing parental separation means a huge change in kids lifestyle, socioeconomic standing, social life, and emotional well-being.

When most couples say “I do”, they never imagine that one day they might be tempted to say “I don’t anymore.”

Experiencing difficulties in marriage doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationship. Taking a marriage course or going to marriage counseling can help you learn how to strengthen your bond and prevent a harmful divorce.

For many couples, this may not be an option.

If your marriage is no longer making you happy and you are considering separating, the unknowns may be standing in your way of moving forward. How will divorce affect your life and more importantly, your children’s lives?

Divorce is a painful and emotionally challenging experience for everyone in the family to go through. Experiencing parental separation means a huge change in kids lifestyle, socioeconomic standing, social life, and emotional well-being.

Changes in Lifestyle

For many children, having divorced parents means living in two different houses throughout the week. It could also mean potentially going through a hurtful custody battle.

For some children, a parent’s divorce may cause them to move to a new home altogether or change schools. Adjusting to a new schedule and finding new friends to play with puts new, added stress on kids.

While small in the grand scheme of things, these changes can make your child feel lost and alone in an already difficult time in their lives.

Behavioral Problems

Children need routines. They thrive on them. So when something as drastic as a divorce occurs, it throws all of their consistency out the window. For the first little while, anyway.

This change can have a huge impact on their behavior. For example, children of divorce are more likely to deal with behavioral issues, such as attention deficit disorder.

For kids with less time with their fathers, the lack of a male role can also affect how they bond with males in the future. Interestingly, a study on child development suggests that females whose father left the home before she was five years old are eight times more likely to become teenage mothers than females from intact families.


It is not uncommon for children to experience a strong sense of resentment toward their parents for not being able to work the marriage out.

Much of this will have to do with the child’s comprehension about why the marriage ended. They may be too young to understand why the relationship could not continue, thus blaming one parent (or both) for the breakup.

This resentment can trail deep into adulthood and affect a parent-child relationship for many years.

Blaming Themselves

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry found that many children assume the responsibility of mending their parent’s broken marriage. This can often put undue stress, guilt, and pressure during an already trying time.

Parents are wise to seek marriage courses or couples’ counseling before calling it quits on the relationship. This will leave both partners, and their children, with no doubts or regrets with regards to trying to save the marriage.

Marriage courses or marriages counseling can teach couples new techniques for communicating and problem-solving. It can also help couples set goals, practice teamwork, and build compassion for one another.

Educational Difficulties

According to the Journal of Psychology, children of divorce also receive seven-tenths of a year less education than children whose parents are still married. They are also more likely to be held back a grade.

Yes, poor academic achievements are positively correlated with divorce and parental separation. Research goes on to suggest that children of divorce are more likely to have lower grade point averages and do worse in both reading and spelling.

Children of divorce are less likely to attend a form of higher education, largely due to their poor grades and the loss of income from a two-parent household that could have helped them pay for college.

Potentials for Abuse

Even if the parents should remarry new partners, this is not a guarantee that the child will be free from divorce’s harmful effects. If parents should marry new partners, there are new issues to deal with, including the potential for abuse. In fact, research indicates that children living in a house with their parents’ new partners are more likely to be abused than children living with both biological parents.

Sadness and Depression

The Linacre Quarterly journal found that the intact family structure is deeply important for a child’s wellbeing. Research suggests that children do better mentally, emotionally, socially, and academically when their parents strive to take care of their marriage.

No child likes to hear their parents argue or speak badly of one another. Even if your divorce is not what one could consider a “messy” one, the extreme change can easily trigger depression in children.

In some divorces, fathers become physically or emotionally absent. This doesn’t need to be the case, but if it is children suffer emotionally in fatherless households. The study “The Causal Effects of Father Absence” revealed that children from fatherless households are more likely to deal with issues revolving around social-emotional development, mental health, and lower levels of employment.

Your outlook can also have a direct impact on how your child handles the separation.

Breakups often trigger psychological distress and a noticeable decline in life satisfaction. During this depressive time, a parent’s behavior can affect their child’s outlook on the future.

No matter which side you’re on, divorce is difficult for everyone in the family to go through. It can leave lasting changes to your child’s life and affect their mental, emotional, and educational health. By taking a marriage course or going to marriage counseling, you and your spouse can learn to strengthen your relationship against divorce and deepen your bond.

Published on: May 13, 2019
About the Author
Photo of Rachael Pace
Rachael Pace has years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for, a resource to support healthy happy marriages.
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