The emotional difficulties of divorce affect children no matter what their age. When your children are school-aged, it is quite common to see some temporary changes in their academics. With love, understanding and patience, you can help your child deal with the issues presented during a divorce.
The Impact on School-Age Children
How the divorce will impact a child’s academic life depends, in part, on the child’s stage of development. All school-age children, those in kindergarten through high school, will be affected in some way. For many students, divorce may have a negative effect. Some students may begin doing poorly in school, while others may become over-achievers. These changes may be temporary.
Children in the primary grades are likely to internalize the divorce and experience feelings of guilt, thinking the divorce may be their fault. It is not unusual for young children to feel as though their behavior caused the breakup. They may exhibit feelings of anger or sadness.
Some children may act out in school to find out if their parents will stop loving them. Such behavior is often an attempt to test whether or not their fears are justified. They may also have trouble concentrating on their schoolwork, or they may daydream during classes. Teachers may also notice that homework is not being completed on time, or that a child lacks motivation during class.
Junior High and High School
Older children may also display anger. Changes in routine, parental conflicts in public and feelings of being caught in the middle are factors. If one parent seems to be over-burdened by the divorce, teenaged children may take on more responsibility with the idea it is up to them to “pick up the slack.”
Sometimes a child may become on over-achiever in an attempt to control their feelings about the divorce. Other teens may begin indulging in negative behaviors as an expression of their malcontent. The important thing is to keep lines of communication open and realize your children are vulnerable during this time of disruption.
Minimizing the Impact
Despite your best efforts, your children will be affected by the divorce, as they would with any major life change. This is to be expected. At the same time, you can help to minimize the impact by reassuring your children of your unconditional love. Let them know that they are not responsible for the divorce, and realize that they may need ongoing reassurance from you both during and after the divorce.
Children need to feel secure and safe, and a divorce can disrupt these feelings. Positive reassurance and understanding on your part will help them during this time of adjustment. Just as you go through a grieving process over the loss of your marriage, your children will also grieve.
At Lake Harriet Law, we provide legal services with integrity, excellence and compassion for our clients. If you are considering divorce, please contact our team to schedule an office consultation.
Randall A. Smith – Managing Attorney 612-750-4843
Aubry Fritsch – Student Attorney 612-223-8925
Taylor Blatchford – Student Attorney 612-223-8925