According the American Academy of Adolescent and Child Psychiatry, children often misinterpret the meaning of divorce. Children may conclude that the conflict is somehow their fault or take extreme measures to bring their parents back together.
Younger children may become aggressive, disobey, or become withdrawn. In older children, divorce may have negative effects on schoolwork and social behavior. Children may become depressed or act out at school or at home.
The experts advise parents to talk to their children about what is happening, starting as early as possible. They also suggest talking to the child with your spouse, so you both send the same message. That message should include reassurance that the divorce or separation is not the child's fault, that you both still love the child, and that you will both continue to be the child's parents and stay involved in the child's life.
However illogical any of these fears may sound to an adult, parents must remember that children are still trying to orient themselves and understand the world around them, and may come to conclusions you wouldn't expect.
At the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny, we are aware of the psychological and emotional toll that divorce can take on children. If your children are struggling with the process, if they are depressed or have behavior problems, Molly Kenny has access to mental health professionals and can refer you to a therapist.
More information on divorce and other pediatric mental health issues are available through the AACAP's online Facts for Families.