Single Parenting: Divorce and Long-term Effects on Children
Helping Your Kids Overcome the Divorce and Become Emotionally Stronger
By CARL PICKHARDT
All children are beneficiaries and victims of choices their parents make because a mixed performance is the best that parents can give -- a mix of strength and frailty, of wellness and illness, of wisdom and stupidity, of consideration and selfishness. In consequence, children develop partly because of and partly in spite of how their parents choose to act.
In the case of parental divorce, children are more victims than beneficiary of this decision. Now they must continue to grow up in consequence of a choice by parents that forever alters old living arrangements as separate parental homes are divided out of a single family, children from now on dividing time between the two. They and their parents will never live all together again.
Now children are left to answer many troubling questions:
1. How can parents who commit to get married choose not to stay married?
2. If the commitment of marriage is made to be broken, then what commitments can you trust?
3. If parents can lose their love for each other, can they lose their love for their children?
4. If one parent can leave the family, can the other parent leave too?
5. If love is not forever, then for how long is love?
Divorce is a life-changing event. It violates children’s sense of trust because it breaks two contractual commitments they took for granted – that their parents would always stay together for the sake of the marriage and for the sake of the family. So for many children, divorce represents a loss of love between parents and a renunciation of family responsibility.
No wonder children of divorce so often wrestle with issues of commitment, and of trust in commitment, in later love relationships of their own. Although not meaning to, when parents divorce each other, they also divorce their children. Divorce may feel necessary or right for parents, but it usually feels wrong for children who to some degree feel anxious, injured, betrayed, abandoned and rejected.
Where the parent or parents wanting the divorce see a prospect for life improvement, children only experience a broken promise, family dislocation, an uncertain future, and personal loss.