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Six Reasons Why Divorce Is Scary for Kids

Children experience six major changes when their parents go through a divorce. Knowing what the changes are can help you help a young person you know face divorce without fear. 

  1. New Routine
    Daily life takes on a drastically different look after a divorce. Children often go from living in one house to two and altering even the most basic activities like where and when they eat and sleep. 
  2. New School
    Some divorces require children to move with the custodial parent to a new neighborhood or even a new state. Those moves mean new schools, new teachers, new friends and new academic expectations. 
  3. New Friends
    Changing schools or moving to a new neighborhood after a divorce radically alters a child's social support network. Relationships with friends are painfully and abruptly severed. Depending on a child's personality and age, forming new friendships may prove an arduous endeavor; some will soar while others will struggle. Some children fall into unhealthy peer relationships, threatening their academic performance and physical well-being. 
  4. New Activities
    New neighborhoods, schools and routines mean new extracurricular activities for children. They may have to join a new soccer club or quit gymnastics because the facilities are too far away. This can leave them with the choice of finding new activities to enjoy or becoming less active.
  5. New Standard of Living
    Incomes that used to support one household must now support two, which may mean less disposable income for toys, eating out or music lessons. Children may have to wait longer to get the clothes or tennis shoes they want. 
  6. New Relationships with Family Members
    Relationships with parents, siblings and extended family members can all change after a divorce. Siblings may be separated or older children may be expected to assume caretaking responsibilities for younger brothers and sisters. Parents may be working longer hours, leaving children to spend more time alone. One parent may manipulate a child to get information about the other parent. Relationships with parents that were strained before a divorce can become even more stressful in the wake of one. 

Any one of these changes would be a lot for an adult to deal with; imagine being a child in this situation. When parents divorce, children experience all or many of these changes at the same time. Thankfully, most children are incredibly resilient and adjust to the changes in their lives amazingly well. 

For more information about helping a child in your life adapt to the changes that come with divorce, contact the Boys Town National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000 or email us. Trained counselors will listen to your situation, answer your questions and offer helpful advice.