Potential Long-Term Effects: Children and Divorce

We’ve discussed the examples of short-term effects, so, now we’ll take a look at the potential long-term effects that can be a result of divorce for children. Keep in mind as you read them, because some are pretty harrowing, that each child will react differently. There is no one way to expect them to act. They are experiencing the divorce in a different way than you are, and making sure those lines of communication are open, can make a huge difference for how they interpret and react to what is happening.

Potential long-term effects of divorce on children

Drug or alcohol addiction

One of the common short term effects for children of divorce is to lash out in ways that will gain attention or dull their pain. Depending on the age group that the child is in, alcohol or drugs are one surefire way to do it. Therefore a dependence has a much higher chance of developing. This is very much based off of how your child reacts, and their age group. But, it is important to recognize the signs early on.

Get Married or have Children Very Early

If you speak to a teenager or young adult who was in the middle of a nasty divorce, often times you will hear them say: “I just want a normal family” or “I just want to do it better”. Children who experienced a separated family will often feel an urge to create a unified family of their own quicker than your average teenager.

But, on the flip side of this, children of divorced parents are much more likely (statistically) to experience a divorce for themselves. Therefore the chances of both having children early, but also divorcing early— are very high.


When a child is witness to a nasty divorce, they are often left feeling torn between two parents. Therefore, anxiety is a common side effect. No matter the age, if the setting is hostile a child will become anxious. From the decisions they must make, to which parent they spend their time with, and the ever dreaded holidays.

Holidays for divorced families are quite different, especially when the relationship between two parents is strained. Anxiety is by no means uncommon, and most people experience it to some extent. But, watching out for the characteristics might help you aid the problem more quickly. Such as sleep problems, distancing themselves, getting into trouble, hair loss, etc.

Developing Strong Relationships

Keep in mind that there are a lot of good potential long-term effects that can come from these situations. Ultimately, every child and parent will handle divorce differently, and the reaction can be inherently positive. When you and your spouse can create display of unity, maintain communication, and show the child that what is happening here is not ideal— but it is not the end of the world, they can grow from the situation.

It is all in how a child portrays the message. If you are showing them that this marriage is ending because it was not healthy in the right ways— they can learn from that. They can begin to understand what is healthy in a marriage and instill those values for themselves.