The Real Impact of Divorce on Kids

Divorce, as you likely know, can wreak havoc on many parts of life. It’s expensive and time consuming, can drag up painful memories, cause bitter confrontation, bring about financial ruin, damage friendships, and of course, lead to chaos and confusion in the lives of the children whose parents are splitting.

But just how severely are these kids affected?

We may have a vague understanding that divorce is tough on kids, but looking at real comments from kids who live through it, we start to get an idea of how much damage is actually being done. The Huffington Post recently featured a collection of anonymous comments from the children of divorced parents, and they are as eye opening as they are heart wrenching.

While a few of them are understandable at the surface, like having to choose between parents’ houses for the holidays, the majority are about feelings of being torn between their fighting parents – being in the middle of arguments, being forced to “choose a side,” being pitted against one parent by the other, having to be the messenger or go-between, and not being able to see or speak to a parent they love because of living with the other.

The real problem here isn’t just that the kids have had to live through a divorce, it’s that after the split, they are continuing to get caught up in their parents’ ongoing feud.

Unfortunately, when parents get divorced, it’s very difficult – almost impossible – to “leave the kids out of it.” When a couple has children together, they can’t just walk away from the marriage unscathed – they have to at least stay in some kind of contact (most of the time) for the kids to be able to spend time with both parents.

When tensions are high, though, and the wounds of the divorce (or even just a separation) haven’t healed, it can be tough for those parents to be civil with one another, or even talk civilly about each other to the child. Even if the parents are masters of holding their tongues, kids can tell when they aren’t getting along.

Combine that tension with bouncing back and forth between homes, general confusion about the nature of adult relationships, and having to explain the situation to friends or younger siblings – and we see that divorce is putting an extreme amount of pressure on children.

Now, “staying together for the kids” is not a healthy way to solve relationship issues. If your relationship is volatile and you aren’t getting along with your spouse, this is also a problematic and potentially damaging environment for youngsters. Instead of keeping your troubled marriage for the sake of the kids, use their wellbeing as a source of inspiration for improving the marriage you have.

If you know that your kids will be better off in a happy home with both parents present, you can use that sentiment to give momentum to your efforts to strengthen the marriage. It can be tough to admit problems and begin to work toward solutions, but perhaps knowing that it’s better for your young ones is the push you need to get started!

No child deserves to be forced between his or her fighting parents. Before you make the drastic decision of divorcing, put some effort into repairing your broken relationship for their sake – and for your own sake too.

For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders,

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unicor 9 years ago

My children were one over 18 and the other 17 when we divorced 2 years ago after 23 years of marriage, however I see the same problem you mentioned here as far as the kids having to take sides and now "with the other woman" in their dad's life it is a very difficult situation. They unfortunately will be marked for life and at least for now they do not want to marry and have kids. I wanted to work on the marriage but their father not and there is not even communication between him and I. Yet I hear when they meet him he talks bad about me ( that I am controlling , manipulative and all I want is the money) and I have resolved not to even mentioned him as hard as it is to not talk about his negative personality and behavior. Some times I can not control my mouth and I do, to regret it later as I know is not healthy for my kids even as adults. There is bitterness and anger still because he does not want to work at the marriage ( we are still married in the catholic faith) or even a civil relationship. He was drinking more, was unfaithful and squandered our money ( I brought more into the marriage in properties and cash) and because he wanted "his freedom" to have other women asked for the divorce accusing me of being "controlling thinking that I own him as well as the properties and money" . Never his fault. It is true even as adults the children suffer and are marked for life. However what can I do when he is with another woman, divorced over 2 years and does not want communication? And frankly after the way he treated me ( closed his door on my face once when I went to ask him to work in the marriage, told me he was paying me alimony (only 500 dollars mind you, because he did not want to see me, and took advantage financially as he new I did not want the divorce let alone to go to public court to fight about properties and money) I basically agree to every thing he wanted thinking this way he would come back.... I am to a point that think better alone that to accept that kind of treatment and disrespect again. Yet part of me see the value of keeping the marriage and the family together, but how if he does not even want to talk?. Am I always the one to crawl and ask for the communication?

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

Hi Unicor - I think you are right about not speaking poorly of your husband in front of your children, even if he does the same. If they ask you about the marriage, and divorce, try to answer them as honestly as you can, admitting your own faults as well as his. As far as the marriage, if the divorce is already final, it sounds over. Any reconciliation between you both would probably take years.

Keedy 9 years ago

my spouse and I recently separated. Before the separation we lived in the same house, but in separate rooms and NO sex life, affection, or conversation for that matter in the past 3 years. I guess my question is, is it okay to date someone else while your in the mist of a separation/divorce?our marriage has run its course and I'm no longer in love with him.

Mike_Olsen_SMN 9 years ago

Hi Keedy - I would say no, especially if kids are involved. There is a chance the separation will make you fall back in love again, and having an affair would be hard to come by. If you have stayed faithful this long, show your future partner that you would until the end- or until the new beginning.

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