Divorce: Children are mentally affected and suffer in silence

In the event of a divorce, parents should put their children first in any decision making. -Pix from Google

By Huzraifah Atikah

No family ever wants to go through a divorce, but unfortunately, it is something very common these days.

While it is difficult for parents, it is even more painful for the children concerned.

They are the first to witness the bitterness and often, the lack and loss of love and affection between their parents.

From a child's eyes, seeing both the people they love separating and not loving each other anymore is often very confusing and scary. 

They do not fully understand the situation and why a divorce even has to take place at all.

According to Verywell Family website, a divorce can have numerous psychological effects on children. 

That is why it is important for children to receive the right motivation in the first one to two years after the divorce to ensure they are able to cope with it.

The level of acceptance and suffering, may, however differ based on how the parents handle the situation.

Also, children of different ages react differently to divorce.

Many are likely to experience depression, anger, anxiety and disbelief and may tend to express their feelings aggressively.

For the younger children, they often struggle to understand things like why they must go between two homes after the divorce. 

Some of them may also wonder, if their parents can stop loving one another than someday their parents may stop loving them as well.

As for primary school children, they are more likely to blame themselves for the divorce, wondering if it happened because they did something wrong. 

However, it may be more difficult to handle teenagers because they are noted to become angry over the divorce and the changes it creates. 

They may also become rebellious and rude, especially if they blame one parent for the marriage failure. 

But then again, every divorce is different and unique. Even though the situation may be different, the pain is always similar. 

As a result, some children may take a longer time to accept the divorce, while others could take a shorter period of time to learn to accept it. 

Undeniably, there are a lot of changes that may happen after a divorce and it may be very stressful for the children. 

That is also why divorce often causes children to have problems such as mental health, behaviour, and also poor academic performances.  

The good news is as a parent you can reduce the problem that may occur due to divorce by following these strategies:

- Co-parent peacefully

- Don’t put kids in the middle

- Maintain a healthy relationship with your child

- Use consistent discipline

- Monitor adolescents closely

- Empower your child

- Teach specific coping skills

- Help your child feel safe and secure

- Attend a parent education programme

- Seek professional help for yourself

According to Psycom website on how to help kids cope with divorce or separation, there are signs to know whether your child is struggling or not based on their behaviour.

For example, your children may experience symptoms of depression or anxiety by beginning to withdraw or isolate from others.   

So, here are some the common behaviours or symptoms that can occur during and after the divorce that you could monitor:

- Academic or behavioural problems

- Mood swings

- Less socializing with friends

- Less cooperation with everyday tasks

- Decreased self-esteem

- Increased irrational fears

- Lack of interest in communication

Truth is, no parent would ever know how to go through a divorce without hurting their children.

However, parents should still look for the best way to minimise the pain by being responsible and mature to keep the situation in check. 

Even though the marriage failed, children should not feel like they being are punished for it.

Back in 2014, it was reported that there is at least one divorce in Malaysia every 10 minutes. 

What do you think of this issue?