The Effects of Post-Divorce Relationships on Children.


Divorce is an experience that is extremely stressful for all children not considering their developmental stage or their age. Many children are caught unaware when parents decide to separate hence being adequately prepared for the imminent divorce.

They experience a lot of pain due to a sense of vulnerability as the family face disintegration. A study in 1980 found out that in fact more than 90% receive no support from adult in dealing with emotional vulnerability during the acute phase of divorce. Unlike in bereavement and other stressful events which get attention of the society, divorce is unique since customary support system tends to dissolve leaving the vulnerable children with no support at all. Ignorance by adult to help the children adapt to life changes adds salt to the already injured children (Wallerstein , 1998).

Most of them are also likely to express a grief reaction to the loss of a bonded intact family. Many children n do not take notice of the troubled marriage of their children until divorce occur. Grief is likely to manifest in an intense anger and strong feeling of powerlessness as the disruption pf the family occur.


Some effects of divorce manifest differently in one developmental stage to another. Preschool children for example are likely to suffer from exaggerated fear of separation from the custodial parent and, sleep disturbances.Early latency stage, children live by fantasy that the parents will reunite, they have problem in accepting the permanence of divorcé. Anger and feeling of powerlessness is manifested by late latency stage and the adolescence age. In adolescence are in addition likely to respond with acute depression suicidal ideas and sometimes violently. Adolescent are however capable to show compassion and integrate to their parents (Wallerstein ,1998).

The loss of the other spouse leads is likely to lead to diminished parenting which adversely affect children. In the wake of divorce, mothers show’s varying degrees of anger, disorganization, decreased hope for upright social behavior of their children, and reduction of the parents to distinguish the needs and action of the child from those of the adult.Diminished parenting may also be short term or chronic depending with resilience capacity of the spouse. It becomes chronic when the parents do not reconstitute the children back to bonding relationship that can enable the child to remove attachment from the missing parent (Jacquet , 2001).

Absence of the other spouse may lead to child phenomena. According to (Furstenberg et al 2005)approximately 15% children interviewed in 15 year follow up study showed momentous effect from children taking on the role of psychologically holding a custodial parent together. Children most often become responsible for alleviating depression and other threats to psychological functioning of their parents at the expense of their own needs.

Absence of maternal contact is a critical factor in the adaptation of children to divorce. Many researches reveal negligible effects of absence paternal participation in children and point out reduced paternal contact with the kids as the major reason. Maternal participation is vital for the well being of the child academic in delinquency, distress and behavioral problem. (Furstenberg et al, 2005)

The girlfriend/ boyfriend relationship in during teenage stage undergoes a lot of changes in the lives of young adults from divorced families ( Jacquet M, 2001). Most teenagers are still living with their parents during time of divorce. They suffer a feeling of abandonment when divorce which is aggravated by adolescence moods swing. When a home breaks it destroys the whole concept of home for adolescence.

They also find insecurity to be much a big problem and are likely to suffer from depression. During adolescence teenagers from both intact families and those from divorced families are rebellious to their parents. More conflicts are expected with parents competing with each other over the loyalty of their teenagers. This characteristic together with depression may lead to teenagers wanting to be alone therefore terminating the dating game.

Difficulties in boyfriend girlfriend boyfriend relationship are worsened by financial difficulties of the teenagers from divorced families. When most families break up, finances are the first casualty. A family relied heavily on both parents for financial support and after breakup the family needs finances for meeting the expenses. Family lacks much money to share with teenagers a problem that affects their dating relationship (Carl & Hernbrew 2006).

Attachment issues are developed that are likely to remain through the children dating and marital status.Jacquet (2001) presents a relationship between the experience of parental divorce and the heterosexual premarital relationship of young adults from divorced families. In her study which involved a random sample of 464 coupled partners, children from divorced families marry earlier, cohabit more often, are less educated and reports more difficult interpersonal behaviors.

Their marital relationships can most likely be affected by the transmission of divorce stated above. Anger, jealousy, infidelity are the most common problems of the young adults from divorced families that likely to terminate their dating and marital relationship. Others are mistrust is the perception that one’s partner is not honest. Young adults from divorced families especially those at advanced stage of dating relationship have a problem in trusting their dating partners ( Jacquet , 2001).

The children are vulnerable to passionate love because of anxiety and fear of being abandoned a characteristic attached to parental divorce (Hillman J, 2007). Although they are likely to show more passionate love in casual relationship than the young adults from intact families, they feel lack comfortable security required for friendship based love. Relationships are characterized by lack commitment, reduced satisfaction and happiness, negativity and conflict (Hillman , 2007).

Young adults from divorced families have a problem with their sexual identity. Out of observing the parents heterosexual interaction, this young adults are bound to developed unhealthy heterosexual relationship. Withdrawal from friends and roommate more likely and it can lead to depression, drug abuse and increased consumption of alcohol (Wallerstein,1998).

Divorce is an event that can have a long term effect on psychological functioning of the children, adolescent and young adults. wallerstein sleeper effects is one example of long term effects of divorce. In his study about 66% of the women between the ages of 19-23 who were interviewed during a period of 10 years of divorce had resurgence of anxiety, guilt, fear, and anger that they had concealed for many years.

The feelings according to the wallerstein study resurface when young adult and adolescence want to make major decision such as marriage (Wallerstein , 1998).Nevertheless, solutions to dealing with the effects of divorce should be the focus of everyone involved. Young adults are working hard to live their life as any another person despite the challenges posed by divorce. They are working hard to be independent and therefore need to special consideration. Parents should therefore not throw in towel and say they are unable to do anything (Furstenberg et al, 2005).

While the children especially teenagers are busy exerting independence, it is imperative that the remaining parent continue to lay some grounds rules in making sure the other parent is involved in your Childs life (Carl G & Hernbrew 2006). To place a visitation schedule is difficult since it involves visitation fights but it is possible to bring the fights down. If for example one separated with the other spouse when the child was still young the adolescence may present some hurdles in terms of visitation schedule with the other partner.

A schedule need to be planned considering the developmental stages since a schedule that worked for a school age child is not going to fit the teenagers and vice versa. For teenagers the first thing to bear in mind is that teens may behave themselves like adult but they aren’t yet mature completely. They still need both parents involvement in their lives (Furstenberg et al, 2005).

Young adults and the teenagers from divorced families need sports activities, school, friends, jobs and dating. an visitation schedule should not restrict them from enjoying these essential activities, otherwise the visitation plan will not work and likely to cause more resentments.There is need to create a balance in their lives allowing them to have plenty of time to pursue their own interests but also have some time for them to be with parents. Flexibility is the key thing for divorced parents of the children and young adults to bring together the things that make your kid who he is (Hillman , 2007).

In situations where the schedule for both children and parents is very busy, it is important to come to agreement to some kind minimum time per month with non custodial parent. For example they can agree to arrange things so that the other parent can see the kids for at least four days per month. With the advent of technology it is easy to stay connected through frequent communication, messaging or emailing between the parents and the kids. A Successful visitation schedule will go a long way in helping the child grow normally and also help the young adults’ deals with the changes of their lives (Furstenberg et al, 2005).


In general, the aspects that are attributed to post divorce when clearly looked upon will definitely check on the real status of the position of the children. The standing of the way the children will perceive what has occurred after divorce will depend on the away their parents relate to them and advocate for the change.


Carl G and Hernbrew K (2006) The Undiscovered Self:Ability To Recover, new American publisher.

Furstenberg F, Morgan S, Allison P. (2005) Paternal Participation and Children’s Well-Being After Marital Dissolution. American Sociological Review. 52: 695-701.

Hillman J (2007) the soul code:in search of calling and character Strasbourg: Council of Europe publishing.

Jacquet M, (2001) a portrait of courage: the consequences of divorce 21,2 119-132. New York, MIT Press.

Wallerstein, J (1998) Children After Divorce: Wounds That Don’t Heal. The Psychiatric Times: Medicine and Behavior. U.K,Cambridge university press pp.79-99.