Wondering how divorce affects children? Here's what you need to know, from Judith Wallerstein, an internationally recognized authority on the effects of divorce on children and the co-author of "Surviving The Breakup: How Children And Parents Cope With Divorce." Have questions? Ask in the comments.
Divorce affects children profoundly at every age, from infancy into adulthood. Whether the effects are lasting depends on the sensitivity of their parents and their willingness to give priority to the children's concerns. When children are little, they fear that they will be forgotten or abandoned. When they are school age, they fear being replaced. As one heartbroken six-year-old asked me, "Will my daddy get another dog? Another mommy? Another little boy?" During adolescence they say, "You can hope for love but you can't expect it." And when they reach young adulthood, they fear betrayal and decide not to fall in love or marry because, "If you don't marry then you don't divorce." Loving parents can make a huge difference in easing their children's anxieties. Good books can also be helpful (in one of my blogs, I selected books that I recommend). Well trained counselors can be helpful. But there is no substitute for the enduring love and support of parents and grandparents who try their best to help kids grow up and conquer their fears of love and commitment because their parents divorced.