For a child to experience the divorce of their parents can be stressful regardless of their age. They are not prepared mentally and many times do not receive the support to help deal with it. As an example when there is a death in the family they would receive more support than when there is a divorce.
For the most part the children do not know a divorce is coming until the parents tell them. When they get the news the child may go into a period of grieving and feel unsure what their future will be like. There will be a feeling of anger and will miss the parent that does not have parental control over them.
Depending on the child’s age they may handle the divorce differently. Following are some things that may be expected.
1. When the children are between 3 and 5 they could have trouble sleeping because they are worried. Mentally they may take a step back and they may experience grief because they miss the parent that is missing.
2. Between the ages of 6 and 10 the child may grief openly for the missing parent. It can be common for them to fantasize about the family coming back together again. They do not believe at this point that the divorce could be permanent.
3. Children between 12 and 18 will sometimes be depressed after the divorce. There could also be anger or in extreme cases suicide. They will be worried about how their future relationships will be with their parents as time goes on.
Sometimes when the mother has custody of the children she can show some levels of anger. She may even lower her expectations of the children’s behavior. She may also put her needs above the children.
In order to maintain a good relationship the mother must make sure she is connected to them from the start. If the mother does not take responsibility the children could be left with being too responsible for their own actions. This can lead to some social behavior issues down the road.
These are especially important before the mother starts a new relationship.
For the sake of the children it is very important to be there for them so they can deal with their anxieties. It is going to take them some time to learn to be without both parents and they will need support during these times.