Children are arguably one of the most compelling reasons that people avoid filing for divorce. There is plenty of research showing that parental divorce can be an adverse childhood event that affects someone’s social and emotional development.
Devoted parents, even while miserable in their marriages, may try to keep the family together so that fulfilling their needs won’t damage the children. Unfortunately, staying in an unhappy marriage can do just as much harm as a divorce might.
You and your spouse might model very unhealthy relationship behaviors, and the tension between you can affect the children as much as a divorce might. If you think a divorce is inevitable in your case, is there an age at which it will be easier for the children to handle?
Divorce is hard for children at every age
There is never a point when a child is old enough and mature enough to completely avoid an emotional response to their parents’ divorce. Even adult children may have intense emotional responses when they learn that their parents will soon divorce.
Younger children who aren’t yet in school may have a harder time making sense of the divorce or processing their feelings without professional help. Teenagers and young adults might act out or become manipulative because they understand the situation and want to use it to their advantage.
Different age groups have different responses, but one group will struggle the most. Psychologists claim that grade-school-age children between the ages of six and 12 may have the hardest time coping with parental divorce. They are just starting to develop a sense of themselves and the world around them, and divorce can’t disrupt the bond with their primary caregiver. It can also challenge how they perceive their family and the rules that structure the world.
Choosing to divorce before your children reach that age or waiting another year or two until they are slightly more mature might be a good option. For many couples, delaying divorce because of the age of the children may do more harm than good.