Cochin Cardiac Club

Health Blog by Dr.Uday Nair


One instructive means of thinking about divorce is to consider divorce not as a single event that influences people's lives, but rather as a process. This conceptualization of divorce suggests that the manner in which divorce ultimately affects children involves a confluence of factors and processes that occur early in the divorce, as well as processes occurring after the divorce. Moreover, this line of reasoning suggests that many negative effects for children in divorced families may be due to exposure to traumatic experiences and processes that have nothing to do with divorce per se. That is, children whose parents divorce witness negative family interaction prior to a divorce and also experience many life transitions and strained familial relationships after divorce.

Marriages that end in divorce typically begin a process of unraveling, estrangement, or emotional separation years before the actual legal divorce is obtained. During the course of the marriage, one or both of the marital partners begins to feel alienated from the other. Conflicts with each other and with the children intensify, become more frequent, and often go unresolved. Feelings of bitterness, helplessness, and anger escalate as the spouses weigh the costs and benefits of continuing the marriage versus separating

Many unhappy couples explore marital counseling, extramarital relationships, and trial separations, with marital happiness fluctuating upward and downward from day to day and year to year as the marital relationship and marital roles are renegotiated.

For both parents and children, the most difficult and stressful phase of the divorce process is usually the period leading up to and immediately following parental separation and divorce. The uncoupling process takes on several dimensions at this stage, as divorcing parents confront legal challenges and expenses, make their intentions public to family and friends, and redefine their roles as residential and nonresidential parents.


Children are often the most harmed in a divorce. Overall stability and attitude decline, along with self esteem and trouble getting along with parents. The emotional strain of being pulled away from biological parents can cause irreparable damage to a developing child and can cause difficulties in learning and interacting with peers in childhood, and as the child grows older can result in difficulties forming and maintaining relationships. Along with this, studies have reported that teenagers whose parents have divorced are more likely to get involved in alcohol, drugs, and having a lower socioeconomic status overall.
Continuing into adulthood, the detrimental effects of divorce continue. Studies report less learning and difficulty maintaining long term relationships with the most frequent delayed onset consequence is a negative anxiety of repeating the failed relationship that caused the divorce

In any given case, the developmental stage of the child, the parental attitude, the financial situation, the custody battle, the visitation policies, the interactions between parents prior to and after divorce and the openness with which the subject is approached will interact to produce some effect, positive or negative, on the child. The question is, as professionals, what can we do to reduce the negative effects for this population at risk? It is comforting to note that the suffering caused by family disruptions, in general, are temporary. But there is no reason why school personnel, armed with appropriate information and understanding, cannot help to make the transition a little easier for the children. "For the sake of the children" should not be just a phrase associated with keeping unhappy marriages intact.

No comments: