Children’s Reaction to Divorce

I often hear parents tell me their kids are doing fine with the divorce, when the child is not. I also have many parents who are thinking about divorce ask me, “how will this affect my child?” This is a tough question to answer.

What I have seen as a psychotherapist working with children whose parents are divorcing is that how the parents handle the divorce determines how a child will react. Many children are put in the middle during a divorce. The parents make them feel like they must choose between Mom and Dad. No child can make this choice. They love both parents. Children who are caught in the middle like this tend to act out at school, at home and get involved with drugs and alcohol.

Also divorce takes a long time and children have no say about what happens in regards to custody. This takes a toll on a child. Also it is very hard not where you are going to live and having no say about how often you see Mom or Dad. Again this is very stressful on children and this stress often results in children acting out or becoming depressed. Many children can benefit from therapy during a divorce, but many parents argue over therapy. Therefore, many children don’t receive therapy or only receive it after a long fight.

The other difficulty is that many parents tell a child everything about the divorce even though they are instructed not to. This is extremely stressful on a child. They are too young to fully understand the situation and they are hearing things about their parents that they should not hear. This creates a tremendous amount of stress on a child. As a result, their grades suffer, they feel overwhelmed and often turn to alcohol, drugs or sex as a way to decrease their stress. Also many children become angry and start to get into fights at school or vandalize things.

Everything I have described is because of parents putting children in the middle of a divorce. Remember you can get a divorce and stop being married, but you cannot stop being parents. You must learn to co-parent and you need to keep your child out of the middle.

Many people tend to down play what I say because they feel I am exaggerating. Therefore, I have included a link to a video where a child gives tips to other kids and adults about divorce. Therefore, you will not be hearing it from a therapist, you will be hearing it directly from a child dealing with divorce. Please watch and learn, Listen to a kid give kids & parents very good tips about coping with divorce. A must see

Dr. Michael Rubino has over 18 years working with children and teenagers who have parents who are divorcing. For more information on Dr. Rubino’s work or private practice please visit his website

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