Divorce is difficult for everyone. Couples that have children are going to face an uphill battle in a divorce. Children complicate divorces, making them more emotionally painful and confusing. Many parents choose to stay married simply because they don’t want to hurt their children in a divorce.
But staying together until the child turns eighteen and then splitting is also a difficult decision.
Your child’s life will be impacted by a divorce. Even if your child is eighteen, they will suffer from emotional distress following divorce. If you know how a child’s health is impacted, you’ll be better prepared to help during this difficult time.
1. Depression is Common
Depression is common. Since every child is different, some will show no outward signs of depression after a divorce, while others will be visibly impacted. Parents need to know the signs of depression so that they can get their child the help they need. Signs include:
- Declining grades
Parents often mistake these signs as a child acting out, but depression is up 23% among children up to the age of 20. So, nearly 1-in-4 children are already depressed, and this figure is in general.
Divorce will have an even bigger impact on a child’s risk of becoming depressed.
As a parent, self-care and compassion is essential to helping yourself and your child cope with divorce.
2. Difficulty Sleeping
Over a million children face divorce in the United States every year. Consistency is often disrupted in a divorce, too. Children end up going to bed later, and when moving between two homes, the child often suffers from restless nights.
This is especially true as children enter their preteen and teenage years.
If your child is having issues sleeping, you will want to do a few things:
- Try your best to keep a consistent bedtime
- Coordinate bedtimes with your ex
- Remove all electronics during bed time
You’ll want to discuss the issue with your child and see what you can do to ease his or her stress and anxiety.
If your child continues to suffer from restless nights, seeing a counselor or psychologist may help.
Some children also start or restart:
- Thumb sucking
Sit down and talk to your child. Oftentimes, they’ll be more than willing to open up about the problems they’re dealing with during and after a divorce.
3. Higher Risk of Illness
A 2017 study shed some light on divorce and a child’s long-term health. The study found that a child has a higher risk of getting a cold in adulthood when they come from a divorced family. The inflammatory process and physiology is changed due to divorce.
Scientists believe that the stress from a divorce causes a higher risk of illness among children.
The study links family stress to child susceptibility 20 – 40 years later. Children in the study were at higher risk of colds as adults when parents that split don’t speak. The study, which included 200 healthy adults, found that when parents spoke after a divorce, the child wasn’t at a higher risk of getting the common cold.