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How does divorce affect adolescent children?

On Behalf of | Jan 24, 2022 | Family Law

Divorce in American households is a common occurrence, with the country leading instances of dissolved marriages during the past several decades. This trend has an especially serious impact on children, and World Psychiatry notes that about 40% of children in the U.S. live in families with single parents due to divorce.

While divorce can affect any child, adolescents may especially feel the impact due to their awareness of the situation and suffer a greater emotional toll than younger children, which may result in behaviors different than those of toddlers or pre-adolescents.

A change in academic work

Divorce matters such as custody decisions and one parent leaving the household can seriously affect an adolescent’s school performance. Poor grades, failed tests and inattention may all occur as the teen focuses more on the impact of the divorce. Both parents may want to meet with a school counselor to discuss the family’s situation and to ensure their child receives support both at home and in the classroom to prevent poor performance.

Substance abuse

The pain divorce causes may trigger new or worsening drug use in adolescents as they attempt to cope with the changes happening in their homes. Controlled substances may offer them a means of temporary escape or reduce the anxiety they feel about the divorce or even about important upcoming events, such as high school graduation. Parents can prevent drug use by talking to their teens regularly about divorce-related issues that concern them directly and avoiding relying on them for all of their emotional support, something that is usually too difficult for a young mind to handle.

Teens dealing with their parents’ divorce may also develop feelings of depression and anxiety While some adjust with more ease, counseling and reassurance from the parents may help ease the transition.