The breakdown of a marriage is never easy on kids. But it’s especially troubling when it’s a high-conflict divorce. When parents, who were once so deeply in love with each other, grow apart and hurl accusations here and there, or one party wants to win at whatever cost, even if it would mean trash-talking their ex in court or on social media, it creates a seriously unpleasant, nasty situation for the kids. One where they’re confused, frustrated, or downright angry at the world. Here are the specific ways high-conflict divorce affects children:
Kids drift apart from one parent.
Usually, people who just got out of a hostile, tension-filled divorce decide to move away. They relocate to a new town or a different city to have a fresh start in life, but also, to be as far as they can from their ex. Yes, to keep their kids away. This geographical distance then can make visitation a bit difficult, and therefore gradually results in the child becoming alienated from their mom or dad. This triggers a host of psychological problems, from low self-esteem and self-hatred, feeling like they’re abandoned and unloved by the other parent, to substance abuse and addiction, later on, coping in unhealthy ways.
So regardless of how your relationship with your ex turned out, don’t deprive your kids of their right to maintain the bond with the other parent. If you’re really bent on relocating for peace of mind and nothing else, just remember to comply with your state’s laws on travel restrictions. On the other hand, if you’re the noncustodial parent, work hard in spending time with your kids. Yes, you’re not someone’s wife or husband anymore, but you remain to be the mother or the father of your children. So prioritize them.
Kids lose respect for their parents.
Sometimes, this stems from how kids interpret the actions of their parents in the time of divorce. For instance, they may see mom crying herself to sleep or not being their usual, playful self. Children might think of their dad as a selfish heartbreaker. Or they may also witness how their father lost their car or their business after the split. Kids might see their mother as greedy and irresponsible. In other instances, the loss of respect comes from the parents themselves talking ill about the other party when they’re with kids. You or your ex might be the very people putting negative perceptions on your child’s mind.
To prevent this and keep your child’s regard of you as a parent intact, both you and your spouse should agree that you won’t be pointing fingers at each other. This way, hopefully, you can avoid the heavy emotional turmoil and arrive at a set-up that would be okay (read: financially bearable) for both parties. If you’re still looking for a child support lawyer, Denver-based law firms could be the first place you can start.
Kids don’t believe in marriage anymore.
Adults are role models for kids. Whether you like it or not, how you relate to your spouse serves as a ‘template’ for relationships. So when you bicker at each other all the time, even way after the break-up, the fights become the norm in your kids’ eyes, and sometimes, the younger ones think it’s what relationships should be. To older children, that creates a mistrust on marriage itself. They may suffer insecurity when they do pursue romantic relationships later on. So part of your on-going reassurance to kids should be showing them that you can be civil during and after the break-up. That you can work together in taking care of the kids, precisely because your love for them outweighs your aversion to each other.
Ditch the Drama
High-conflict divorces spell doom for kids. So if you haven’t gotten the hint yet, here’s the bottom line of it all: pursue an amicable break-up. If you can’t do it for your peace of mind, at least do it for the children.