Prevalence:  30-50% of children will have to deal with divorce

Tips for Parents:


    1. Listen to the children's feelings.
    2. Reassure the kids that they are loved.
    3. Do not blame the children.
    4. Co-parent instead of fight. Communication is important to maintain consistent parenting.
    5. Do not argue about the children.
    6. Don't badmouth your ex to the kids.
    7. Don't use the children as spies.
    8. Don't make the children grow up too fast.
    9. Parentification = when kids are expected to take on adult roles and responsibilities.

    10. Do not break promises.
    11. Separate children from dating and sexuality.


Life changes during divorce:

Stage one: Predivorce - fighting leading up to decision to divorce

Stage two: Disruptive - final decision for divorce

Stage three: Changed social and economic realities

Stage four: new parent child relationships

Stage five: potential remarriage or change in custodial parent


Divorce Effects

  1. Infant (0-3 years)
  2. Tantrums, irritability, separation problems, regression

  3. Preschooler (3-5) <= this group does the WORST in dealing with divorce, girls better than boys
  4. Fear of abandonment, clinging behavior



    Fantasy denial

    Increased agression or inhibition

    Self-esteem issues

  5. 6-8 year-olds
  6. grief, sadness, fears, anger at custodial parent

    fantasies of reconciliation

    loyalty conflicts

    self-esteem and identity questions

  7. 9-12 year-olds
  8. sober response

    anger at one parent, aligning with other

    self-esteem and identity shaken

    somatic symptoms

    loyalty conflicts

  9. Adolescence: boys are more vulnerable than girls in this.

Initial major upset

Change in parent-child relationship, increased responsibility

Mourning/anger (+/- violence)

Loyalty conflicts

Worry about own sexual and marital relationships

Sometimes may lead to greater maturity

Psychological Sequelae of Divorce:

37% moderate-severe

29% sporadic, milder problems

34% good psychological health

Continued fighting is related to poor psychological adjustment.

Vulnerability factors:

Predisposing vulnerability

Quality of life before divorce

Turbulence after divorce

Emotional stability of parent in the home.

School age children cope best with a divorce; pre-schoolers do worst.

Boys fare better than girls with stepfamilies

Girls do better than boys in single-parent situations.