Worst Age For Divorce For Children

Worst Age For Divorce For Children – Here’s What Fathers Must Know

Divorce is what a couple does to each other, but it happens to the children. 

Oh, believe me, I know what I am getting off my chest. It started around the time when I was four and unaware of all the intricacies that come with parenting. Sometimes, they were loud and shouting in the next room. Sometimes, I saw one of them crying over the phone or in the car outside the supermarket.

Then they became louder, even in front of me, shouting, “how could you do this?”, “It’s is your fault, that I am in such condition,” and “our marriage was a mistake.”

It’s funny how people spend time and money planning for marriage. But divorce? It comes unplanned, like death, and guess who suffers the collateral damage? Children. Have you ever wondered what is the worst age for divorce for children? I’d say any age if you ask me. 

Divorce is hard for everyone, and age is truly not a factor here. Having kids in a marriage that is falling apart is probably the most concerning aspect for the parents deciding to divorce. But is it possible to be in a marriage you are not happy in just until the children grow up? Is doing it for the kids a good alternative, either? 

Worst Age For Divorce For Children: Know Before Doing It To Yourself And Your Kids

Parent arguing Child Sad

No, this piece is not a criticism of whether divorce is good or bad. It is a solution for a marriage that is just not working out.

But, it becomes complicated when you choose to divorce your partner after conceiving a child with them. You can go your separate ways, but the child’s dream of a happy home gets destroyed forever. Your decision affects your children at any age.

However, the degree of their suffering might be different at different ages. Since you asked for the worst age for divorce for children, I will be talking about how divorce affects a child at every stage of their development. 

Scott Darell, M.D. is a child psychologist, and he is of the opinion that “Probably the only ages where you would say it has no meaningful impact is under 2,” he continues to explain, “That’s largely connected to a child’s developing cognitive abilities before three years old. Even 2-year-olds have memory, so they’re aware of the change on an emotional level rather than a cognitive level. It’s just that an attachment figure is not there.”

Worst Age For Divorce For Children (Under 3)

Worst Age For Divorce For Children (Under 3)

If you are under the misconception that they won’t understand, then read this line again – you are under a misconception.

Parents taking a divorce at an early age of their children tend to think that they will not feel it. But, age around 2 to 3 keeps fresh memories of events that they witness. According to different research by experts, children can remember memories from a very young age. 

A three-year-old baby can easily picture their mom and dad fighting in front of them. A divorce can cause unbearable trauma in toddlers. Within a few months of their lives, they have only known the love of two people who always cared for them and loved them. When a couple opts for a divorce, their kids experience a division in love.

For them, life becomes half-empty and half-full. They become inconsolable. They start getting closer to one parent, typically the parent they live with. I started to feel insecure about losing that one parent, too. As a result, some kids miss development steps, while some have to jump steps and develop the hard way. 

Preschool Years ( 3 to 5)

Parent arguing in-front of 5 year old child

No, they don’t understand the concept of divorce yet. Divorce leads children to the worst places, and the preschool years are nothing less than hell for them. They start to take the stable home and the secure lap of their parent to be absolute now. 

Right now, they are exploring new things and developing interests in games, picture books, toys, and the world built around their parents.

Getting that world wrecked by a piece of divorce paper is the last thing they’d ask for. Until now, they only had their parents. But, now they are also afraid to lose the world they are building around their parent and their little belongings. 

Children at such a stage in life ask a lot of questions, and 3 to 5 is just as bad an age for divorce for children as any other. They go through an emotional black hole, taking them to unknown places. Having trouble sleeping and confusing emotions are some parts of their damaged childhood that can never be mended. 

Let’s say divorce is inevitable; as parents, try not to make bad memories for your kids. Keep the loud-mouthing or bad-mouthing from zero to a minimum.

Try skipping the worst thing a husband can say to his wife or the wife to the husband. Their trauma will become lesser once the divorce is done and when things are normal again.

Elementary Years (6 to 12)

Parent arguing in-front of 8 year old child

The worst age for divorce for children to me is 6 to 12. Children are more aware of their bond with their parents. They have had good times with their parents. Now that their parents are separating, they will keep comparing the good times with the present.

They can foresee a fight, and they can presume what will become of them once the parents are separated. Also, they are so concerned about the parents being together that they start blaming themselves. 

They become desperate and start saying things like, “I will be a good boy mom, please don’t leave dad,” and “what did I do ?”. Also, they are concerned about their place in the divorce.

They are wondering where this divorce will leave them. They become uncommunicative, anxious, or withdrawn from their surrounding, given the negative effects of divorce. Sometimes, such events lead kids to depression and, in worst cases, self-harm.

Teenage Years

Parent arguing in-front of a teenage

The teenage years can be both easy and tough at the same time. Teenagers are more understanding about their parents divorcing each other.

They are more composed about their emotions when dealing with divorce. Sometimes, they also might feel relieved once the divorce is done. 

However, they are still immature and may act impulsively following the divorce of their parents. They also might feel that they are to blame for the separation. Since teenagers are self-conscious and globally connected, they can balance the sudden loss of a whole family.

But they are also concerned about their social standing after the divorce. Sometimes, they act rebelliously revolt against their parents’ divorce.

Think From All Ends 

If nothing good comes out of a marriage, then divorce becomes a feasible option– one that ends in tears but also drains the bad blood out of your married life. It also does damage to your children’s lives equally.

Sometimes, the effects of the divorce might last forever. You should think it out before you finally sign the divorce papers because it also concerns the lives of your children. 

You can start by figuring out if it is healthy for you, your partner, and your children. Can you reconcile the situation? But, if you see no way back, you can take the hard road.

As a caring parent, though, you should always consider how it affects your children. You can try to make the transition emotionally, socially, and psychologically easier for them.

Final Thoughts:

Kids are bound to feel like they are being abandoned, and as parents, your duty would be to prevent that from happening. Creating opportunities to spend quality time together, no matter the circumstances, is a must. 

If you are deciding to separate at no fault of the child, you must make sure they are not affected by your decision in any way when you file for the divorce as well as after the divorce.

The transition for your kids must be as swift and as easy as you can possibly make it. Your kids are not responsible for your emotions and sentiments while you are involved in a divorce.

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Shahnawaz Alam


Shahnawaz is a dreamer, a living jukebox of rhetoric, music, art, poetry, and comics. Son to a single father, Shahnawaz has always been a keen observer of parenting – more importantly, looking at parenting from different angles. Shahnawaz holds a master's degree in English literature and loves to spend time in nature, admiring its beauty. While he’s not pondering upon the dynamics of parent-children relationships, he lets J. Alfred Prufrock be the piper of Hamelin and often sleepwalks to his monologues.

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