And so you have to start learning new ways of being, learning how to parent again and trying to establish new routines for the kids. Some kids might take everything in their stride, while others are completely shaken up by it. The effect of divorce on children isn't something you can be totally sure about in terms of what the reactions may be.
What can lead to a divorce?
A divorce usually occurs when two lawfully married couples decide that they can't continue in the marriage because of irreconcilable differences and so they seek for ways to dissolve the union in court. What is peculiar about divorce in Nigeria is the fact that most people don't go to court for divorce to happen. Most times it is done verbally. It is not completely out of place to find a woman in Nigeria who just woke up and decided she was done with the man, packed her belongings and left. The man gets the memo when he doesn't see her.
Effect of divorce on children
Divorce can leave your children confused. There's no way to know if your kids will be particularly affected before your divorce. But if they are going to be affected, the following are some of the ones you may expect.
They can become irritable
When their parents are getting divorced, children don't know how to feel exactly. Which emotion to give into. Most times it ends up being irritability and anger. This anger is mostly directed at their parents for daring to divorce, themselves, their friends and classmates, even siblings. Usually, they process the anger on their own and it lets up after a week or two. But if it doesn't, maybe it's time to seek counselling.
Poor academic performance
Often, when divorce happens children are left in a place they've never known before. Confusion sets in. Why should they have to go between two homes now? The confusion, along with the changing dynamics, causes a distraction that affects their performance in school.
They may feel guilty
The feelings of guilt are very common in children whose parents are getting divorced. It is a time when they are searching for reasons for the divorce of their parents. They wonder why the divorce is happening in the first place. Whether their parents have fallen out of love. The one that causes the most feeling of guilt is if they think they had something to do with why their parents are getting divorced. So it goes a long way if parents can provide context before divorcing.
They can lose faith in marriage
Losing faith in marriage is another effect children whose parents are getting divorced might experience. Divorce is even harder to process if the children have watched and seen acts of love and dedication in their parents before the divorce. They think, what's the point of marriage if my own parents failed at it? The institution becomes pointless to them and it can affect their relationships in the future.
They can become emotionally sensitive
Children whose parents are on the verge of divorce may experience anxiety and a feeling of having lost something. It can be overwhelming for them. So they need someone to talk to, someone who can help process their feelings.
Talking to your children before your divorce can help a great deal. Let them know you're divorcing, but you both are still their parents and each of you will be involved in their lives.
This article was first published on AfricaParent.com