Conscientious divorcing parents are aware of the potential negative impact of their break-up on their children and work to minimize it. They look for all the warning signs of anxiety, stress and behavioral issues.
However, as children grow into adolescents and adults, the residual effects of parental divorce can continue to impact their lives, relationships and potential for success. Following are a few examples:
It’s not uncommon for children of divorce to grow up to have trust issues in relationships. They’ve seen their parents’ relationship unravel, so they can be wary of long-term commitment or go into relationships expecting them to fail. That can become a self-fulfilling prophesy.
If their parents were never able to find a way to amicably work together to co-parent them after their divorce, they may also have a difficult time dealing with conflict in their own relationships because they never learned the skills necessary to work through disagreements.
Substance abuse issues
Teens with divorced parents are more likely to have issues with substance abuse. Too many adolescents turn to drugs and alcohol to numb their feelings of sadness, anger and frustration. Substance abuse can mask depression and other mental health issues. If the substance abuse isn’t addressed early, your child may not learn positive coping skills. Moreover, they can find themselves in a long-term and dangerous battle with addiction.
If a child’s education is allowed to suffer amid parental divorce, this can impact their ability to get into college. They may lose interest in education completely or be kicked out of school because of behavior issues (addressed below). This can impact their ability to get a good job and can negatively impact their financial well-being for the rest of their lives.
Behavioral problems and run-ins with the law
It’s not unusual for children of divorce to act out in an antisocial and even violent manner occasionally. However, if this isn’t nipped in the bud, it can lead to an aggressive pattern of behavior that can become criminal.
It’s wise for co-parents to be aware of the potential for long-term problems when their kids are still young. If your child is already an adolescent or young adult, it’s not too late to recognize the connection between your divorce and your child’s current problems and to help them seek out therapy or other assistance.