While most people believe divorce only affects people involved while the divorce is occuring, and for a while after, it actually can affect them for the rest of their lives. Teenagers get the worst of it, as far as long-term effects, because their brains are just developing emotional patterns and behaviors. Based on research, teenagers’ brains and thought processes are affected by divorce in hundreds of ways, including changing how they react in their own relationships.
Children whose parents go through divorce suffer more frequently from symptoms of psychological distress than those whose parents have not.
They are less likely to graduate high school, and often drop out of school. Teenagers, in an attempt to act out against the divorce or their parents, are more likely to do drugs, drink while underage, or commit crimes. And their parents, who lose financial support during a divorce, are more likely to put themselves and their children into poverty.
Teenagers take divorce as pain or betrayal from their parents, and act out against them.
They will often act harshly towards their parents, such as ignoring them or disobeying them. They may run away, or frequently spend time at friends’ houses in an attempt to stay away from their family. Younger children experience grief, becoming sad or clingy after a divorce. Unlike teenagers, they do not find someone to blame, but rather deal with trying to comprehend why their family is seperated. Teenagers tend to find someone to blame the ordeal on, such as themselves, siblings, or parents.
Every single child of divorce suffers from temporary or long-lasting emotional trauma. It may be subtle, drastic, or barely even shown. For teenagers, most problems from divorce arise later in adulthood, rather than adolescence. When they begin going into their own relationships, they begin to remember the divorce, and are unwilling to commit. As soon as a problem, even a small one, arises, they are quick to end the whole relationship. In fear of the relationship failing, they will sometimes become manipulative to try to keep their partner committed.
Teenagers begin to see negatively of relationships, believing there is no true love and that love is not real, or that it doesn’t work out. They saw their parents abandon each other, the people they probably thought never would, so they believe nobody else can have a happy ending either. Sometimes they will never begin relationships in fear of it ending, or end it quickly because they only believe it will happen sooner or later. They begin to believe less in the magic of love, thinking of it as just that; a trick.
As said earlier, they have a disbelief in love. They believe there is no permanence to relationships, and develop a fear of abandonment whilst in them. They have a readiness to leave the relationship, and become overly cautious while in a relationship. Because they are afraid of losing their partner, the teenager will tend to try to be overly in control and almost force their partner to stay.
Teenagers, during or after a divorce, can become more independent or mature. They lose their energy, and stop trying to have fun. Teenagers will begin to rely less on their family and friends and begin trying to do everything on their own, seeing as their parents didn’t need each other. They can become defiant, serious, uptight, or even try to ignore that the divorce ever happened and stay ‘normal’ in an attempt to keep their old way of life.
In many cases, teenagers will take the side of one parent, more often the mother. They will act out harshly to the other, sometimes refusing to see them or being defiant and insulting. In some cases they will completely cut off all contact with the opposing parent, sometimes never seeing them again for the rest of their lives. In other cases, they will try to rebuild the relationship with said parent several years or so later. Often the parent will continuously try to get back in contact with the child, sometimes angering the child further and digging themselves into a deeper hole. Others will ignore the child as done to them, finding another spouse and then beginning their own families. This causes the original child to feel betrayed, abandoned, and worthless. The child will then proceed to dislike the parent more or blame themselves for not being a good enough daughter/son.
Divorce also affects teenagers social lives, futures, and careers. Their grades tend to drop around the time of a divorce, as well as involvement in extracurricular activities. To everyone, mostly their family, adolescents will become harsh, rude, cautious, nervous, or shy after or during a divorce. The adolescent will sometimes become angry or erratic, at times demanding to leave and getting extremely angry if not allowed to do so. On other cases, they will go into withdrawal, pushing everyone out and shutting themselves in. The rate of depression is higher in children of divorce, as well as suicide. They have a less likely rate of success as far as degrees and jobs, along with relationships and social interaction. This does not, by any means, mean children of divorce do not gain the success that children without divorce do not. Plenty of those children become some of the most well-known successful men and women in the world.
There are hundreds of cases of divorces a year [875,000 out of 2,000,000 a year], and many end with families torn apart, such as the case of Lily or Jessica. Both of these women no longer see their fathers, having taken the side of their mothers at the time of the divorce. Lily’s father lost contact with her, beginning a new family and seeming to forget his old one. Lily reported feeling betrayed, angry, and abandoned, causing her to feel reportedly glad he was gone. Jessica Hackenbruch cut off contact with her father at the time of the divorce [her being 13], because she was angry with him, and reportedly blamed the divorce on him. According to Jessica, her father repeatedly tried to get her to see him once more, but she said this caused her to become angrier with him, and more reluctant to see him. She also reported that her brother, like stated above, tried to pretend like the divorce had never happened, ignoring the subject and trying to change nothing about his life.
Divorce lingers in adolescents’ of divorce (along with younger children) minds wherever they go. Holidays remind them of the times their family was all together, and other families cause them to remember how their lives used to be. Based on research, divorce seems to affect the children of it more so than the parents. The parents feel a loss in their relationship, not their foundation, such as children. They often do not believe that their children are affected by the divorce as much as they really are.
Rather, adolescents and children are affected in many different ways by divorce. Parents often cause their children to be angrier, but it is only because they do not know how to help the child. Teenagers act out in various types of ways, and most time it isn’t comprehended as acting out because of family problems. Because adolescents brains are still developing, the behaviors that come with divorce sometimes will stick with the adolescent throughout their lifetime. Adolescents’ problems that come after divorce can be minor and short-term, or long-term and drastic. It all depends on the child, the circumstances, and how they choose to react to what has happened.