The impacts of divorce on children

Julia Duran, Assistant Features Editor

About 40 to 50 percent of American marriages end in divorce, according to the American Psychological Association. As a result, many students have experienced a divorce between their parents, and it has affected them in different ways.

“When parents are going through a separation, they are harsher in their discipline and are [often] not available to pay attention to how their child is dealing with it,” school psychologist Felina Williams said. “Students may become depressed, withdrawn and have a decline in their grades because they can’t focus due to what is going on in their house.”

Marital issues can impact the environment in which a child lives.

“[My parents] fought a lot when I was younger, and I’m not going to lie, it was hard,” senior Megan Dinneen, whose parents are planning to divorce, said. “They were both miserable, and it made my home life very uncomfortable most of the time.”

Not only do children sometimes have to deal with excessive arguing, they also may have to make difficult choices such as deciding which parent to live with and with whom to spend the holidays. Additionally, their routine may change as they may have to constantly move between houses.

“It is very stressful going between houses because I forget a lot of things and both houses are very different, with different parenting styles and rules,” junior Liam Kirkpatrick, whose parents divorced when he was three, said. “Holidays are also really conflicting because both sides of the family want me to be there with them.”

Some students view their parents’ divorce as a learning experience.

“I feel like when my mom and stepdad got a divorce, it showed me that not all relationships are going to work out,” senior Jadyn Belmo said.

Divorce can impact the social lives of young people and their relationships in the long run.

“[Having family therapy is good] because that child may not really process the whole situation until they are in high school, college or until a serious relationship,” Williams said. “[Divorce] then becomes more real to them in terms of what a real relationship looks like.”

Divorced parents have their own ways of making their separation less harmful to their children.

“When they stay out of court, it definitely makes [the situation] less ugly for the child, because children don’t want to go and have to testify and choose between one [parent] or the other,” Williams said.

Although divorce can be difficult for a family, children want their parents to be happy even if it means splitting up.

“Research shows that it is not necessarily the separation [of] the divorce that affects the kids,” Williams said. “It is the marital conflict.”