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How divorce impacts children by age

When a Delaware couple makes the difficult decision to dissolve their marriage, it impacts everyone. The divorcees must adjust to a “new normal,” but if the couple has any children, the impact is even more significant. Childhood development is a complicated area, but understanding how divorce impacts children based on their age is important for parents.

Birth to 18 months

Many people assume that since children don’t remember much from this time in their life that they won’t notice the impact of a divorce. This isn’t necessarily true. Babies can pick up on tension in their homes and often become more clingy or moody during a divorce.

Three to six years old

The level of uncertainty associated with a divorce scares adults, and that fear amplifies for children between the ages of three and six. It’s not uncommon for children in this age range to feel responsible for a divorce, even if they can’t verbalize it. This fear and misplaced guilt often present as nightmares when children try to sleep.

Six to 11 years old

When children get a bit older, it seems easier to explain to them that their parents won’t live in the same home anymore. While they may understand that they only spend time with one parent at a time, they often feel like they can rescue the relationship. It’s also not uncommon for children in this age group to lash out, blaming one parent for the end of the marriage.

There are steps that parents should take to minimize the impact of divorce on children. Keeping things as civil as possible is an important place to start. Parents should also avoid using their children as messengers, sounding boards, or in the worst divorces, weapons against the other parent.