At What Age Are Children Most Traumatized by Massachusetts Divorce

by Renee Lazar on Apr. 13, 2018

Divorce & Family Law Divorce & Family Law  Child Custody Divorce & Family Law  Child Support 

Summary: Learn to work together. Because you're parents. You've got to work together for your children's sake.

Divorce 96.jpg

Getting a Massachusetts divorce after having children is unlikely to be a part of anyone's life plans. However, sometimes relationships become so broken that, child or not, there's no other choice but to call it quits. This situation will undoubtedly affect the kid, but the amount of trauma they'll experience depends, in part, on their age when the Massachusetts divorce occurs.

According to child psychologists, if a divorce happens when a child is a baby, it's likely that trauma of the divorce itself will be nominal. Probably the only ages where you would say it has no meaningful impact is under two. That's largely connected to a child's developing cognitive abilities before 3 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. 

After 3 years old, the potential for emotional trauma appears to peak around age 11. At this point, kids have had a half dozen years of understanding the significance of their parent's relationship. They've developed deep attachments to both parents and the family as a unit. At the same time, they lack independence and are deeply egocentric, which causes them to internalize the family breakdown.

The divorce itself is not the hardest part, the hardest part is the conflict.

That conflict becomes particularly damaging if it happens in front of children. Worse still is when parents communicate via the child or tear down their ex-partner. In the most extreme circumstances, a divorce might even be beneficial if there was a lot of conflicts, sometimes the divorce is like a relief.

Prior to puberty, the trauma of divorce can also be exacerbated by a parent who simply stops being a parent. A divorce that leads to lack of contact, or inconsistent parenting time, can cause a kid to feel as if they are missing a part of themselves.

The absolute worst thing for a kid is if, after a divorce, a parent just isn't involved. If you want to see a depressed kid, look at what happens when a parent doesn't show up. This is largely linked to their egocentric tendencies. It's natural for a kid with an absent parent to wonder, "What's wrong with me that you don't love me?"
Things do change as children enter their teens, however. With puberty comes a little more ability to think critically, as well as a stronger push towards an independent identity that isn't so deeply tied to the family.

Once a child goes through puberty there's more potential to accept and understand a parent's divorce. 

Importantly, keep in mind that children are pretty resilient, particularly if they were psychologically healthy prior to the divorce. It might take a year or so to mourn and adjust, but most children do, in fact, adjust to their new reality.

It helps if parents work to keep their conflicts around co-parenting out of sight from their child. It can be difficult, and being successful might require divorce counseling. But parents have to understand the better they can communicate with each other, the better off their kid will be.

Learn to work together. Because you're parents. You've got to work together. 

Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 or visit our website and blog: www.reneelazarlaw.com to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation consultation.

Legal Articles Additional Disclaimer

Lawyer.com is not a law firm and does not offer legal advice. Content posted on Lawyer.com is the sole responsibility of the person from whom such content originated and is not reviewed or commented on by Lawyer.com. The application of law to any set of facts is a highly specialized skill, practiced by lawyers and often dependent on jurisdiction. Content on the site of a legal nature may or may not be accurate for a particular state or jurisdiction and may largely depend on specific circumstances surrounding individual cases, which may or may not be consistent with your circumstances or may no longer be up-to-date to the extent that laws have changed since posting. Legal articles therefore are for review as general research and for use in helping to gauge a lawyer's expertise on a matter. If you are seeking specific legal advice, Lawyer.com recommends that you contact a lawyer to review your specific issues. See Lawyer.com's full Terms of Use for more information.