Divorce and remarriage affects children in a number of different ways. Sadly, experts are confused about exactly how and offer conflicting advice to those in need of help.
The answer to this question is not an easy one which is mainly the reason experts are so confused. Many experts give the traditional answer that if your child is disobedient, doing poorly in school, has behavioral problems and/or is anxious and depressed, then you can conclude that the divorce is affecting him. But if he is not any experiencing any of those issues, then he is not. This is not necessarily the case. It is true that most children will react this way due to the stress of the divorce, but there are some who don’t. Some children will become overly responsible as they try to compensate for the loss of the parent. They feel the need to take care the custodial parent and be overly pleasing to both. Additionally, children whose parents remarry may become extremely competitive as they feel they are in constant competition with either the new spouse, stepsiblings or both. They might take out their aggressiveness and anger through sports. Their grades might actually improve because they want to prove that they are the best so that bio mom and dad will love and acknowledge them again. It’s important to realize that although being involved in sports and wonderful grades certainly aren’t a bad thing; the reason why is important. These kids are working overtime because they don’t feel good about themselves and are therefore trying to prove their worth. As such, if you notice this in your child, constantly reassure him that he is loved and supported to boost his self-esteem. It’s also helpful to reward him for his good grades and cheer him on at his sporting events to give him that recognition and validation that he is seeking.
That being said, when parents do a good job a managing stress and keeping conflict to a minimum, some children are actually pretty resilient when it comes to divorce. These children feel and function pretty much like children whose parents are still married.
As you can see there are a number of different ways that children react to divorce. It’s a stressful ongoing event and time in their lives. Parents, however, can minimize the stress and decrease their chances of developing emotional problems by working together to avoid high conflict situations. Parents must also realize that if you are experiencing a high-conflict, long, drawn out divorce, even if you both remarry, you can GUARANTEE that your children are experiencing stress as a result of it, in some way shape or form.