The Effects Divorce Can Have On Children

Life & Love | Gerren Keith Gaynor | 12/13/2013 | 01:00 PM EST

Why the children are the real victims when parents split

When Taye Diggs and his wife announced their unexpected divorce, they chose to place the focus on the person who will be most affected by their split: their son.

“Idina Menzel and Taye Diggs have jointly decided to separate at this time,” said a statement released by the couple. “Their primary focus and concern is for their son. We ask that you respect their privacy during this time.”

The pair’s decision to zero in on their son, Walker Nathaniel Diggs, who is 4, is refreshing, considering most married couples tend to lose sight of the children in the midst of a divorce, which can have long-lasting impacts on children, who often feel like they’re at the center of two opposing sides that were was once a stable unit.

A divorce creates dramatic changes for children of any age. When we live in a society where a two-parent household is the desired norm, children who don’t have that can often feel like they’re missing out on an experience that was stolen from them. Some even begin to blame themselves for their parents’ split - an often common occurrence.

For young children, in particular, divorce can shake the trust and dependency on parents who now behave in an extremely undependable way. Parents divide the family unit into two different households in which the child must learn to navigate back and forth, which creates unfamiliarity, instability, and insecurity. When you think about it, divorce creates an environment where the child is never able to be with one parent without having to be apart from the other - which is why it’s important that parents maintain a healthy relationship to avoid this feeling of division as much as possible.

Not handling a divorce properly as it relates to the children can have quite negative impacts. In their adolescents, children can act out aggressively. Some will behave defiantly and become distant as a way of instituting their own reliance and even selfishness, as a direct response to what they sometimes view as their parents own lack of care for them and the family’s autonomy.

There’s nothing wrong with divorce. Sometimes married couples realize that they can be better parents while separated, and that’s fine. However, it’s extremely important that parents create some type of stability and predictability, as you’re still a family at the end of the day, no matter how unorthodox it may be.

(Photo: CelebrityJuicer/Splash News)

(Photo: Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

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