How divorce affects the personality of children

Divorce can have both immediate and long-lasting effects on the personality of children. It is unfortunate, but it is true: when a couple is going through a divorce, the children are often the ones most affected, and are often the ones that are given the least amount of attention. Children can be severely traumatized by divorce, especially if the divorce is a nasty one, and/or if there is a prolonged or an intense custody battle.

Some of the personality changes that a child who has been affected by a divorce might express can include:

– large amounts of anger, directed both toward others and themselves

– frequent breaking of rules

– drug and/or alcohol abuse

– destructive behavior

– frequent guilt

– problems with defiance

– increasing isolation or withdrawal from friends and family

– thoughts of suicide or violence

– increased or early sexual activity

– a failure to acknowledge responsibility

The biggest area of personality that is affected by divorce is the area of self image or self esteem. Many of these personality changes are due to a change in the way that a child views himself or herself. They may believe that they themselves caused the divorce, or that they did something wrong that made mommy and/or daddy want to not be with them.

In a divorce, children are also affected in the area of security. Fears that both parents will abandon the child are common, as are fears about what will happen to them next. In addition, the absence of one of their parents can make the child feel extremely lonely. A child who has had a blow to their security may lash out uncontrollably, or he or she may quietly turn inside themselves, and avoid social contact at all.

Some children’s personalities are affected more by divorce than others. However, all children will be affected by a divorce to one degree or another. The things that parents do and dont do will greatly impact exactly how much a child’s personality is affected by the divorce. In addition, the childs gender, age, psychological health, and maturity will also all affect how a divorce impacts a child.

Divorce will not be easy for a parent; but a parent is a grown adult who has (hopefully) mastered coping skills. Children, on the other hand, are not necessarily as prepared as an adult in this regard. If you are going through a divorce and have children, you need to make the way that the divorce affects them your top priority.


Take the Fisher Divorce Adjustment Scale at



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