How Divorce Affects Parent and Child Relationships

How Divorce Affects Parent and Child Relationships

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 26 Feb 2016 - 10:34


One of the toughest phases of life is when a child faces divorce of his/her parents. Marriages ending in divorce have become very common and this trend is alarmingly growing. Kids face emotional problems, which could develop into behavioral issues. A child’s self-esteem takes a major hit post-divorce, eventually leading to depression, trauma, etc. In her book, Cue Cards For Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships, Christina   Steinorth, a renowned psychotherapist explains, “it’s no secret that children of divorced parents are more likely to get divorced”.

Divorce has a negative relationship effect on kids of divorcees. It is important that parents heading towards divorce take special care to safeguard their child’s fragile heart and personality to ensure a strong parent-child relationship.

 Top 5 ways how divorce affect relationship between parents and children

1.      Weak Parental Relationships

The Problem: Kids have a terrible time in the transition period of divorce and its duration is actually determined by how calmly or chaotically you and your ex deal with it. The parent-child relationship gets worse owing to lesser emotional support, less financial assistance and everyday help from parents. It is a sad fact that relationships between kids and their parents, especially the fathers, eventually deteriorates over time, owing to the irreversible emotional impact, divorce has on a child.

The Solution: There are many options parents have, if they’d like to reestablish their relationships with their child. Some include spending one-on-one time with the child, listening before judging, incorporating positive behavior and going the extra mile to make sure they know you’re there for them, no matter what.

2.      Painful Memories & Unending Worries

The Problem: When a child witnesses divorce at an early age, he/she often tends to keep reminiscing bad episodes of the past, about their parents. This eventually leads to them having nightmares and anxious moments, causing them to stay away from maintaining a healthy parent and child relationship. For some, the fact that those happy moments are never going to come back is enough to nurture a sense of hatred and hurt towards parents. Such feelings adversely affect their personalities and their future relationships as well.

The Solution: If you’re headed towards divorce, it is a good idea to share need-to-know-information with your child. Explain about their future schedule and make sure that you avoid unnecessary topics such as division of assets, etc. Also avoid bad mouthing about your partner before your child as this will hamper their relationship and impression about them.

3.      Psychological & Behavioral Problems

The Problem: Troubled kids eventually tend to develop problems like disobedience, rule violations and anger, hampering their school achievement. Some children end up cocooning themselves in sadness for prolonged time periods. This could lead to depression, anxiety and excessive possessiveness, which can get dangerous.

The Solution: Stop rescuing the child when they start expressing how they feel. Since you know you cannot undo or fix the mess your ex has created, ensure you validate your kid’s feelings, reassuring them that you understand what they’re going through. Spend quality time with them to the extent that they start feeling, “hey, I don’t feel so lonely when my mom/dad is around!”

4.      Trust & Confidence Issues

The Problem: Trust lays the foundation for lasting relationships, but when this is broken, there is no hope. When a child witnesses a trust breakdown between parents, the same gets carried forward to their future relationships, fostering feelings of anger, betrayal, hatred and insecurity.           

The Solution: You can help your child cope with trust issues early on by maintaining a cordial co-parenting relationship with each other. Having been through it yourselves, you can counsel the child how to deal with such situations and mold their personality into caring and respectful individuals. Work towards creating a pattern of letting your child fall back on you for advice and emotional support.

5.      Rebellion and Violence

The Problem: Kids who have been through divorce of their parents are often rebellious and resort to violent measures if they want to get something done. Children always imitate their parents. After divorce, life changes from a comfortable stress-free phase to a stressful one, mostly due to financial crisis. So in an effort to defend them, they play the blame game and end up rebelling against the single parent for every small thing.

The Solution: Listen more and speak less while interacting with your kids as this leads to mature communication. Kids bottle up feelings of hatred, regret and pain within themselves and this reflects on their behavior and the way they react to things around them. Stop making statements and start making requests such as, “can we try this?” or “will you be willing to do…?”

Top 5 Tips for Re-establishing Broken Ties with their Kids

  1. Whether you like each other or not, try to cooperate and communicate with each other and stay as far as possible from bickering or blow-ups.
  2. Aim for consistency, teamwork and friendliness and before you know it, child-rearing will be cakewalk.
  3. Try to be on the same page when it comes to rules, discipline and good behavior rewards.
  4. Be consistent in setting schedules for kids, be it mealtime or homework or bedtime as this will go a long way towards their adjustment to two homes.
  5. Save your energy for bigger issues rather than losing your peace over petty issues.


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