The Effect of Divorce on the Family

Divorce involves change for both parents and children.  The effects of divorce on children are related more to the previous situation and the subsequent events that affect the child than on the divorce itself.  Parents are sometimes distant; other times they may be more possessive of their children.  Children are affected if they perceive abandonment by one parent.  If parents use their children as part of their conflict, the children suffer.

The Effect of Divorce on the Children

Children are usually ashamed of the divorce and feel rejected because of a parent's departure.  They are the ones who suffer the most at the time of the divorce and they become at risk for success.  If the parents continue to fight or burden their children with too mush responsibility, then children are likely to suffer depression and interrupted development.  Especially during the first year of divorce, children experience not only change and feelings of loss, but also the disorganization and reorganization of their parents' lives.  Boys, more than girls, show early native reactions by being more quarrelsome and acting out.  They externalize their change and loss. 

Excellent Website to help children understand Divorce

The Effect of Divorce over  Time

The initial effect of divorce is reduced over time.  If the situation at home is an improvement, children can be successful in either a single-parent family or a remarriage.  Children adjust to it and their risk at school is much lower a year after the divorce than immediately following it.

Conditions Affecting Child Adjustment in Divorce

  • Relationships of parents following divorce.  Are the parents amicable, or do they use their children as ammunition against one another?
  • Separation from a parent who is significant to the child.
  • The parenting skills and relationship of the children with the custodial parent.
  • The relationship of children to the nonresidential parent.
  • Economics and Financial ability to keep a standard living.

Insight for Teachers and Administrators

  1. Children do better following a divorce if they are able to have positive relationships with both parents unless the parents are extremely hostile toward on another.
  2. Parent hostility versus parent cooperation causes major problems for children who may be buffeted between the two parents.
  3. It is natural for children will bring their distress with them to the classroom.
  4. During a divorce, the school may be a child's only place of structure, guidance, and security. 
  5. Do not single children out as if there were something different about them because a divorce has occurred in their family. 
  6. Children often yearn for their parents to reconcile and may blame themselves for the divorce.  Children may respond to divorce by externalizing or internalizing problems or experiencing cognitive deficits.  Children who are unhappy in their life situations, whether a divorce or not, tend to internalize their concerns and/or become less successful in school. 
  7. Keep positive expectations for the children.  Be kind, but encourage them to keep up with their homework. 
  8. Find ways that the child can co
  9. ntribute to the class.  Use special projects or activities that may interest the child.
  10. Make phone calls to both parents to share a school activity or a positive contribution the child has made to the class.

Tips for Parents

Every child is unique.  Every situation is different.  There is no perfect answer. Children need their parents; all of them.  However many there are. It's a well-known statistic that children of absent or inattentive fathers are at higher risk for eating disorders. Recent studies show that 70 percent of teens who attempt suicide have divorced parents. It's accepted that children in single-parent homes are at much greater risk of all sorts of behavioral problems. And it's understood by anyone who deals with children that when there are problems at home, there are inevitably problems at school or at daycare.

Children need their parents. And that's why it's so desperately important for those parents who need to divorce, to divorce well -- for their own sake and especially for the sake of their children.

But here are a few links to help you get some advice and hopefully they will answer some very difficult questions:


Brochure Created for on Divorce

Mr. Liesinger's Brochure

Ms. Trewatha Brochure


Berger, Eugenia. Parents as Partners in Education:  Families and Schools Working Together. 6th ed.
       2004.  Pearson Prentice Hall, New Jersey.

Home buton