Jump to content

Long term effects on Children of divorce


Recommended Posts

When I was growing up I didn't think the divorce affected me in anyway, apart from when I was really young and when the 'rent first split. Then from 8+ it was just normal and I didn't think any different towards anything.


Now, as an adult, I can see it did affect me as a child/teen but neither negatively nor postively.


I think now though, entering relationships has been made a bit difficult for me, but only because through the divorce and still now, my parents slate one-another to me (eldest child, whoop) and then say things like 'you're getting more like your mother/father, everyday' so I'm aware of the traits that split my parents up, in me. Which makes me super paranoid of things when going itno a relationship, scared that I'm going to destroy it before its happened. But, then I solely believe I would feel like that if I was the product of a broken home.


Then I think if you ask my sister, in 5 years, she'll say "Nope, it never affected me" because she was too young to remember the divorce.


Not sure if that was what you're looking for, but I felt like a vent

Link to comment

my parents divorced when I was a kid, after an eternity of fighting.


put me off relationships for life, and I still haven't had one. It wasn't the divorce that did the damage though, I was relieved when they divorced, it was the immaturity and bad mouthing of each other, and failure to have a healthy relationship afterwards which did the damage. Very bad examples, my parents.

Link to comment

Well at first I didn't think it affected me at all....I was on the younger side, and honestly at the time I had this thought stuck in my head that my parents would get back together....then after time, I resented my mother for leaving us.....it was like once she left, she hardly ever showed her face at the house again, but got mad when my bother and I wouldn't call her or come see her...AS i got older, I felt like my mother should be the one trying to come see HER kids, not the other way around, so I just stopped trying....once she realized that my brother and i had basically given up, that's when she tried to get back involved in our lives...my brother to this day still won't even bother to call her or see her...he doesn't feel loved...I don't really bother too much with her either because she's so flip floppish (is that a word?!?! lol)


So I'd have to say yes, it DID affect me a lot when it comes to relationships....I felt like nothing was ever going to be stable, because if my own family could break apart, then anyone could leave...that thought scared me, and still does.....Even since their divorce, I have issues with letting people get close to me...I feel like no one will eve be 'happy' with me...and I really don't know why....I've gotten a lot better with it, but I still have those underlying issues with trust, and stability ....

Link to comment

I don't think it affected me at all. I was really young when my mom took off, so for the most part my dad raised me. Then when he found another woman he wanted to marry, he had to find my mother to divorce her, at that time I was about 7. He divorced his second wife when I was 10, married his third when I was 11, divorced her when I was 13...So divorce was kind of the "Norm" for me. Now as an adult, I have been married to the same man for 11.5 years, which still is longer than my father has ever been married combined with all his marriages. I love my dad, he is the greatest, there just wasnt a woman that was meant to be with him forever.

Link to comment

When I was little, yes, it affected me. My mom was divorced a few times. My real father was abusive so she needed to leave that relationship. My father interfered with her second marriage and she was young and stupid and let him so that failed too. She then got back together with my real father for another 10 years and we lived through abuse hell. I think my only issue from the situation is that I feel abandonded by men, but I have come along way in overcoming that. I would rather have that issue that have my mother seriously unhappy in a marriage and being abused and being abused myself. It is not better to stay in a marriage just so the kids to not get "damaged" They will be far more damaged by watching yelling and fighting and discord and abuse.We learn what a marriage is by watching our parents. I am not mad at my mom for any of her decisions, or my dad or step dad. Parents are only people and they have their own baggage and fiobles. I am happy that my mother is now in a happy marriage. While I may have cried as a kid and missed the men that were my fathers, I would much rather have had my mom happy.

Link to comment

I appreciate everyone's response. The reason why I had asked is because of my gf. She and I broke up 2 months ago (today), after being together for 1.5 years. We were great together but after her step father passed away in April, she changed and decided that she needed to be alone. Her rationale was that she needed to build a 'foundation' for herself and she HAD to do it, alone. She said after the death of her step father that she realized she doesnt have a structured family life to go home to. I'm having a hard time understanding things. I can tell you that she's been in and out of relationships since she was 15 years old. Now, at 24, I think she's finally recognizing that she needs to have some time to herself. Unfortunately, our relationship has suffered in the process. We still speak to each other and we've said we wanted to try again when she was ready, but both agreed that I can't wait for her.


I really never ever would have left her if it's abandonment she's afraid of. I just dont know what to do b/c I love her so much and Im struggling with being angry with her decision, but trying to be understanding.


Her birth parents divorced when she was 4. Both parents remarried. Both also ended up divorcing again. Her mom's second marriage ended when she was 18. Both parents are now with another significant other....her mother is on her third marriage and her father is headed for the same..

Link to comment

My parents divorced when I was way too young to even remember. I'm not affected, I just think its rather funny how they give you stuff to try to win you over. I think the parents who talk bad about the other parent is a little annoying I seen that happen to other people. I lived with my mom growing up, she was a idiot in my opinion who didn't know how to raise kids and my dad was a lot more strict. So when I was 17 I finally just said fword it and lived with him. Simpler times=].

Link to comment

I just read a very interesting article on the accepted views of divorce and women raising children as single moms. The accepted view has been that this is a no win situation and that these mothers are doomed to failure for many reasons, including economic, time, trying to accomplish dual parenting roles, etc.


The interesting part of this article is that it refutes that stereotype and points to many examples of very successful parenting in this situation.


The good part in life is that there are no absolutes, just because it is believed to be one way doesn't mean it must. There are so many factors and so many types of divorce situations, I imagine for children of divorce it is varied as the individuals.


My daughter seemed to be OK through it although she has resentment to her father for not being part of her life, especially now as she and her husband have children.


To a certain extent though, all these child / parent dynamics can happen in a two parent home without divorce also.

Link to comment

Actually, ME, there is a mode of thought stating that as long as one parent is stable, the children have a good chance of being emotional stable themselves.


I see that you overlooked single dads. None taken.


When the studies say that in the vast majority of case studies show that there is residual damage to the children of divorce, I take it pretty serious. Some of these studies were conducted for 30 years and followed these children well into adulthood and having realtionship and families of there own. Even if the son/daughter of the divorced couple were adults at the time of the split up of their parents and family, they showed the effects in their relationships. I have documented as much as I could in my book.


People can end marriages for any reason w/o anyone being able to do anything about it. They can leave but let us not delude ourselves into believing that our kids are tough, they will get over it, it will not kill them so it will make them stronger, and whatever rationalizations we care to use, but divorce has a negative affect on everyone involved. Especially in the formative years of the children of divorce when they are learnig how to deal with the emotions they feel.


When people have children, they owe it to them to make d*** certain (and not just lip service) that they have left no stone unturned when it comes to salvaging the marriage. As Michele Weiner-Davis has also said, when the marriage is dissolved, the family is gone forever.

Link to comment

The reason I had initially posted this thread was because I feel I'm experiencing the repercussions of divorce with my, now, ex gf.


Long story short, we recently broke up because she's told me that she needs to build a 'foundation' for herself and be able to stand on her own two feet. I know she fears abandonment and is afraid to love. (She's gone thru NUMEROUS divorces between both parents; they've eached been married 3 times)


I've been going to a therapist who suggested I read 'The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce'. This book has given me a WHOLE difference perspective on things. I told my ex about this and she's agreed to go to the therapist with me to talk. I'm trying to be optimistic and hopeful that this will be a positive experience for both of us. I love her so much and would do anything in order for us to be successful in a relationship.

Link to comment

Excellant book. I was actually using that book as a reference to the comments that I made in my previous post. You seem to have good handle on things. Fear of abandonment, my X has the same issue, is a strong fear of the future and causes those who experience it to dissolve the relationships they have before their partner has the chance to "abandon" them.

Link to comment

Dani- I am a child of divorce. It does have a long reaching effect, and I dealt with mine in therapy. It is a loss of the place we think of as home.


I had a lot of problems, but divorce in my life did not directly affect my ability to have a deep relationship. It was only one part of a number of things that distorted my self image in a negative way, which is where intimacy problems begin. The trust/commitment issues may be more about her relationships with her parents, than their separation. Her background is different than mine. My parents divorced at 13 and then found new life partners later, permanently.


I browsed through the book and think it is interesting, I will read it. In looking at the results of people's lives though, I would think it's hard to separate what is a factor of divorce and what is a factor of your experience with core relating as a child.


It really doesn't matter what the reasons are, she is the one who has to find out what is going on with her. It's nice that she's willing to talk about it in counseling with you. See where it goes, don't expect too much.

Link to comment
Is anyone here a 'child of divorce'?


If so, did it have any negative effects on your relationships as you entered young adulthood?


Were you afraid to enter into a long term relationship bc you were afraid that you would fail? Fear of committment?


My parents divorced when I was 3-4 years old. My step-father (an actual "father"...formerly a catholic priest until he had his affair with my mother) was a complete a-hole. I lived with my mom.


My dad became an alcoholic and never remarried...bitter until he died. My mom stayed in the marriage with my step-father because she had no other option (uneducated, etc.).


The biggest issue I had was that I really never lived in a home with parents who truly loved each other. My mom was very loving, but the step-father...well. My mom at the time obviously did not love this guy, but stuck it out anyway. DON'T DO IT!


I became a caregiver in life and supported my wife's emotional abuse by placating it, keeping the peace and trying to keep my marriage together in spite of my loss of love eventually. Bitterness, resentment.


Biggest takeaway...my kids (despite my wife's and my mutual love for them) need to be in at least one home where there is a healthy relationship.



Link to comment

I see that you overlooked single dads. None taken.



The article only addressed single moms, including the unwed mother (a term I hate), I think the article was trying to refute the stigma of a child being raised by the single mom. I agree though, it should have read "single parent".


I have read so much on this, about half or better is pure bunk, the real answer is in each individual situation and the commitment of the parent.

Link to comment

Then ME, I am forced to ask a question. Why does the Family Court of each State (through state legislation) assume that they know what is best for all of the children of divorced parents?


Their rules and procedures for every child is the same. It is packaged in each and every final divorce decree. While I was being explained what I must do in regards to my children, as if they were wards of the state, by the Family Court mediator (former Family Court judge), I thought to myself, this seems to me that they really do not know what to do, and they have to do something, and this is the best they can come up with. It seems to disregard their claimed position that they care only for the interest of the child and not the parents. I told the mediator at that time that I am going to hold the court to this premise.


The mediator further told me that they (the courts) diagree with the data that has been compiled over the years in contradiction to No-Fault divorce and Joint Custody. The divorce machine justs keeps on rolling.

Link to comment

my parents are still together but i don't think they ever made a good match...there was/is constant fighting and they even told us kids they were getting a divorce on a few separate occasions, only they never followed through. i think this definitely plays a role in my relationships as an adult. i see my parents as a couple who should have separated a long time ago, and i don't want the same thing to happen to me.

Link to comment

I talked with my therapist yesterday and she commented on abandonment issues. She said that when a child of divorce is confronted with making a committment and is ready to take the next step, that's when feelings from their childhood truly surface and when the fear sets in. Hence the reason why my ex decided to sever the relationship.



Has anyone experienced this? Have you been with anyone that's done this? Have you done it yourself?

Link to comment

Yes, it is triggered by the movement to a particular level of commitment to the relationship.


Fear is not entirely accurate because that's not how it comes out consciously, even though that's what is happening unconsciously. On a conscious level I've heard it described more as an intolerance of intimacy, extreme discomfort. Then the person does any number of things to get away from those feelings. On the outside it expresses itself as various types of anger, withdrawal, and constant questioning of the relationship and their feelings about it. That's why they leave. It becomes very unpleasant to stick around even though they may still care about the person.


I have seen this four times in my life, and am dealing with it again now. I've been in NC for about 2-3 months after my partner left with these kinds of issues. Much easier to deal with understanding it.

Link to comment

It hasn't been my experience in the past that the person comes back. They usually move on, in the hopes that they will find a person that will not 'make them feel that way'. From their point of view, it is because they haven't found the right relationship that they are having these feelings. But I don't think it's impossible. People aren't static and all situations are unique. But realize you are hoping for a sudden miracle of self-awareness in someone who as part of their nature at this time in their life is not self-aware.


When I look back without my attachment, I certainly wouldn't want any of those people back. Years later as I see what their lives have become, it's clear we don't belong together. They don't genuinely understand relationships or how to trust. But going through it again, and still wanting my most recent ex back, I understand how you feel. It's very frustrating.

Link to comment

I completely agree with everything you've said. As much as I would love to be with my ex, there is no way a relationship would work until, or unless, she recognizes her 'fears'/ issues and pursues counseling for them. The same pattern would just continue to repeat itself. It is extremely frustrating because I know that she IS capable and is a wonderful person. Unfortunately, she's not in the right place emotionally to confront things.

Link to comment

That's it.


With the exception of myself, none of the people that I have known ever did grow beyond that stuff even after 20+ years. I was in therapy after having many failed relationships and wanting to understand why. I was very, very lucky to have a great therapist, and the depth of my understanding and experience to move past it. And here I am, still single. The world is filled with a great deal of unhappiness and misunderstanding. But I have love inside myself now and it matters less what other people do. Someone out there, is going to be very lucky to find me someday.


The others I know have ended up permanently single, unhappy, in awful relationships and/or nuts to be quite honest. A part of us doesn't want to see someone we care about go down that path. What's important for you is to learn how to recognize where someone is at, and take responsibility for doing your own work.

Link to comment


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...