Effects of Divorce on School Aged Children

04 August 2022

The effects of divorce are wide-reaching and impact far more than just the couple facing it. More often than not, there are children that have to face the effects of divorce as well. And the impact on them can be much stronger than the impact on the couple involved.

Picture this scenario: a father and his 6-year-old son have a pre-arranged spot outside of the elementary school where they have lunch. The boy waits with beaming anticipation for his father to arrive. But that time comes and goes, leaving him disappointed and absent-minded.

These are the types of scenarios that happen regularly among divorced couples with children. Far too often, there are scenarios like these. Divorcing parties tend to overlook the needs and emotions of their children until well after the paperwork has been filed. But it does not have to be that way.

The effects of divorce on children and their parental relationships

There are more than a few scenarios that play out regularly in post-divorce families. Unfortunately, the needs and wants of the children are put on the backburner. That is why it is not uncommon to see scenarios like these:

  • children arriving late to school because of a trip to the store to buy cigarettes for a parent;
  • children being dropped off without proper clothing or lunch. This is because it was the day of parental exchange and clothing was not part of the exchange;
  • children receiving awards without anyone attending their ceremonies because the parents could not agree who would attend;
  • children arriving at school too sick to sit in class and spending the day in the office infirmary, and so the list goes on.

Most of these situations have simple explanations. But some of them could be a result of a family division or distress among the parents. The effect here is definitely the same for the children: a struggle to master their fears which are undermined by feelings of loneliness, helplessness, rejection, and loss.

Ages and Stages

Generally speaking, 6-8 year-olds may experience fear that increases to panic as well as disorganized behavior. It could also stretch to worries about not having enough food or toys. Children need to be continuously reassured that they are okay and that their lives are okay.

Though children at this stage are able to tolerate more flexibility with plans, they still need predictability and consistency. The effects of divorce can generally disrupt these and leave children feeling disappointed and minimalized.

When parents separate there is confusion and disruption of the child’s individual sense of identity, as identity is still closely tied to the family structure. The youngest in this age group may assume personal responsibility for causing the separation. Fantasies of reconciliation are strongly present.

Cooperative Parenting

Happy Boy at School

This means keeping each other informed about any pending events that could affect the child. It things don’t work out smoothly, parents can request that the school keep both parents apprised of any activities and schedules or any difficulties their child might be experiencing.

This sharing of information needs to go both ways, not funneling directly from one parent. A good parenting plan enables both parents to attend activities like school events and extra-curricular activities. The presence of the parents enhances the child’s overall experience.

A good choice is to have the two parents’ homes within the same school district so the children’s friends can remain close.  It is important for both parents equally to accommodate the child’s need to be with school friends on weekends and school holidays. It is a good idea to have their friends invited to both homes.

The effects of divorce can be damaging but there are steps to be taken to mitigate that impact. Work on proper communication and an attention to the children and things can work out.

Fairway Can Help Change the Effects of Divorce

Whether you have been divorced a long time or see it coming down the pike, it is never too early or late to make things better for children of divorce. Even in the most amicable of divorces, children can feel like they are at fault for the dissolution of the marriage.

At Fairway, our team of experts understands the impact of divorce on families. We have the knowledge and experience to work with you to create a better post-divorce path. Whether that means help creating parenting plans or just offering guidance along the way, it varies from case to case.

Though it can feel like anything but, divorce is a good thing. Remember that good relationships do not end in divorce. This is something that is best for both parties involved. Keeping the focus on the kids and showing them that things are for the best is the hard part.