How Divorce Affects Children

Divorce affects children only in a minority of the cases. Most children are not really affected emotionally by the divorce of their parents. As doctor Robert Emery reports, they are resilient, especially when their father and mother and their support network manage the divorce situation in a positive way. For divorced parents, it is important to remember that you should accept your new situation quickly and to go on with your life. If the divorced parent does not accept the new situation, for example the big house cannot be afforded any more, the children will not be able to accept the new situation either.

Of course, children will experience a divorce as painful and they will go through a difficult period. However, pain is natural. Pain goes away over time. Children of divorce reported the following painful effects of the divorce of their parents:

  • they would have been a different person without the divorce,
  • they had a harder childhood
  • they missed not having both parents around
  • they fear when both parents show up on an event (wedding, graduation)
  • they wonder whether their father loves them


The stress of the divorce affects children. Parents can do many things to limit the stress level in children as a result of the divorce.

Stress results from the uncertainty within the children that arises from the new situation. Where will I live? Will we have enough money? Can I stay in the same school? Who is going to take care of me? Do I have to stop with my hobbies? Will I be living with my brothers / sisters?

Many children of divorce are ashamed of the divorce of their parents. Divorce is still seen as a failure of 2 parents today (however due to the high number of divorces these days, the general opinion is shifting to a more neutral perception). "The boy is from a broken family" has a clear implicit negative message in it.

Behaviour problems

Divorce affects children‘s behaviour in a variety of ways.

In some situations, children of divorce start to

  • disobey, to stay away from school,
  • get bad results at school,
  • behave angry in situations that were completely acceptable for them before the divorce or
  • lock themselves out from their social network. In the difficult situation they are in, it is important for them that they have one or more persons they trust and with which they can talk about their emotions and feelings.

Psychological problems

Divorce affects children psychologically in a variety of ways.

The most common are:

  • being depressed
  • being overly concerned about their parents or
  • being anxious

Boys are reported to express their anger in such a way that they get rid of it in a succesful way. Girls however, tend to lock up their anger for many years. Usually until the day on which they have to make an important decision that will impact her life for many years to come. For example when they have to choose a carreer or when they choose their partner.

Divorce Affects Children Suggestion:

If you notice one or more of the behavioural or psychological problems as listed above in your children, consider consulting a professional.

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