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Divorce’s Impact on the Family and How to Cope

Boy listening to headphones while parents fight

Families appear to be solid when parents are working together to balance their careers with parenting, having fun, and finding time to be alone. When divorce tears a family apart, the family may benefit in the long run, but for the short term, everyone suffers and everyone is in pain.

Kids from infant to adult may go through many difficult changes when divorce happens. One day their world was strong and stable, but divorce can weaken the family structure. Kids are particularly subject to pain after parents divorce when there parents don’t get along. The kids’ stability and confidence are shaken when there’s tension and a lot of fighting in the home, as is often the case before and during a divorce. On the other hand, sometimes divorce can bring relief from all the tension and fighting.

Divorce is not pretty, but it does not always have to be ugly or damaging. While there are many ways to minimize the damage of divorce, there is one key element to reducing the impact on families.

The primary concern is to ensure parents can talk to each other without causing more damage. Several factors come into play in improving communication. It’s important to remember that both parents are hurting just as much as everyone else and that each parent deserves respect. For the kids’ sake, parents can make an effort to get along and to keep the kids out of the middle of the conflict. Kids need to worry about their own lives and not about whether they have to tell one parent about the mean things the other parent said. These efforts will help contribute to the long-term health of the parent-child relationship, as the kids will be a part of parents’ lives forever. Parents might also consider therapy to help process their hurt and anger, learn to let the past go, and find a way to move into a new family system.

© Copyright 2010 by Kelly Sanders, MFT, therapist in Rancho Cucamonga, California. All Rights Reserved.

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  • fraser September 27th, 2010 at 10:28 AM #1

    divorce has become an undeniable part of the modern age and we need to realize that there is a large number of couples out there who will be divorcing at any given time.the day may not be too far when we will have couples sign agreements regarding the conditions and things that will be followed if they do get divorced, and that could be signed at the time of the wedding itself ;)

  • Katie September 28th, 2010 at 4:23 PM #2

    It really does baffle me when I hear couples say that they are staying with the marriage for the benefit of the kids. What kind of benefits are the kids getting from seeing their parents yell and scream at one another all of the time. Be civil, call the whole thing off, and come up with a liveable situation for everyone.

  • Marie Thompson October 5th, 2010 at 9:34 PM #3

    Divorce is a painful process. Whether children are young or older, they feel the pain of their family dividing. Sometimes older children have it harder because they know what is right and wrong and can’t be bought.
    Having a good relationship with someone who has betrayed you, lied to you, and threatened you is hard to do. Sometimes the best situation for the children is to try and walk away and leave the cheating spouse in the past. Do not put your children in the middle, but I do not have to have respect for someone who showed me no respect.
    Divorced is not as easy to deal with as many people think. Only the ones who have gone through it really know how bad it is! But there is life after divorce, it just takes times and healing.

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