• Dato Dr. Arunan Selvaraj

Common Responses Of Children Towards Divorce

Updated: Jun 26, 2018


Divorce is indeed a bitter pill for a child to swallow and accept. It takes an  emotional toll on a child, whether the child openly admits it or not. A large  number of children whose parents are divorced continue to immerse  themselves in the realms of denial, and refuse to face the reality of the matter.  It is a common trend for children in this group to make up stories of fantasies  about their parents – stories that they wish are true, but are not.


In all the commotion of a divorce and having to deal with their own emotions  of disappointment and sadness, parents tend to forget to address the emotional  needs of their child. Many adults are so overwhelmed by their own emotions  that they forget that, at this difficult time, their children need them too. This results in the child feeling a sense of abandonment. Whilst the adults are busy  trying to shape up their lives and move on in developing a new life for themselves, the child feels unloved and unwanted.

Desire for details

This is common in the older set of children, as they are more aware of the   situation and thus have an appetite to know the details. They want to know  why both their parents could not sort out whatever the problem was and had to get a divorce. They want to know what the living arrangements post divorce will be like. They want information. Communication between parent and child is essential. Talk to your child. Help them to rationalize and understand the situation and the impact and changes that follow with it. This will allow the child to feel more important and less left in the dark and alone.


Just as an adult feels a brewing sense of bitterness and anger in themselves  post divorce, the same is felt by a child. A child feels angry because they have to suffer the consequences of the mistakes made by two adults. They feel  angry that one parents has decided that it is okay to leave the child behind and  live elsewhere. However, the fire isn’t everlasting and the anger will subside  in time.


Depression is extremely common in children whose parents go through a    separation. This is most commonly seen via the behavioral changes in a child.  A child that was once a noisy bucket of joy, has now become quiet and an introvert.   A highlighting symbol of depression is seen when a child  experiences a continuous feeling of lethargy and no longer has the desire to  participate in activities, or to be surrounded by the company of others.

Blame and guilt

Children are blameless in a divorce – that is a fact. However, when both parents fight and throw words at each other, or when one parent highlights the flaws of the other to the child, the child may feel a sense of guilt in still  wanting the communicate or love the “bad” parent. Children may feel that they are partly responsible for the breakdown of the marriage between you and your partner, and thus parents are advised to instill a continuous reminder in the child that it is and will never be their fault.

Acting differently

The most telling signs of an affected child can be seen when the child steers towards becoming a more rebellious individual. It is very common for affected  children to find solace in negative activities such as indulging in alcohol abuse, drugs or truant activities. In addition to that, many children try to contain their feelings in them before lashing out in an anger manner when an argument blows out of proportion with their parents.

Be there for your children. Love your children.

Tell your children you love them. Show your children you love them.