Effects Of Divorce On Children

Stop Your Conflict From Negatively Affecting Your Children

Parents often worry that their children will negatively suffer from a divorce or family breakup.  However, researchers have found that it’s actually not the divorce in and of itself that makes kids suffer; it’s the ongoing conflict that parents engage in that causes children to act out, misbehave, withdraw, and disengage from their family unit.

When both parents are distracted by fighting, the ongoing conflict can create permanent problems for children.


  • Feel pain 100 percent more than adults feel it;
  • Experience all emotions at more intense levels than adults;
  • Become overwhelmed with the trauma of conflict and often go numb or act out;
  • Attempt to intervene in arguments in order to reduce their own anxiety;
  • Often feel useless, inadequate and depressed because they lack the ability to control their pain and end the conflict;
  • Believe their family life is chaotic, unpredictable, and very scary;
  • Often are unable to create solid emotional connections with either parent when in high conflict situations, along with distrust for all adults because they cannot get their needs met.

Conflict creates a very uncertain, uneasy environment for the family.  When parents are in conflict, it is difficult for them to calm down and focus on the children.  Conflict affects children because they experience higher levels of anger, sadness and worry because they cannot get reassurance from their parents that everything will be okay.

Children also have difficulty concentrating in school and are often unable to complete assignments.  They may withdraw from friends and not be emotionally present in school.

As parents in high conflict often just go through the motions, they become desensitized to their children and miss the fact that they are spiraling downward.  Both children and parents feel hopeless and inadequate because they cannot change their circumstances.  You can change that starting today, however, by following these simple tips to get back in control of your lives and to start saving your children from becoming permanently damaged:

  1. Stop trying to work with or “coparent” with the other parent starting immediately.  You have my permission to start disengaging from the fight and the other parent.  Trying to “coparent” always keeps you in the battle mindset.
  2. Take a “time-out” from communicating with the other parent.
  3. Every time you hear the other parent’s voice or see their face (in any form such as email, text, face to face, telephone calls or through another person, such as your attorney), you cannot calm down for approximately 72 hours.

This means each text will spin you out of control for 3 days.  Several texts with the other parent in one day and you will be out of control for a week.  You must stop responding to daily texts and phone calls in order to get calmed down and start focusing on your children.  Daily interaction with the other parent means that you are not emotionally available for your children.

This means each text will spin you out of control for 3 days.  Several texts with the other parent in one day and you will be out of control for a week.  You must stop responding to daily texts and phone calls in order to get calmed down and start focusing on your children.  Daily interaction with the other parent means that you are not emotionally available for your children.

  1. Begin organizing one simple activity with your children.  Involve them in the planning of the event together, which you will do over a period of time.
  2. When you involve your children in the planning and implementation stages of creating a simple activity together, your children will begin to feel important to you.  You will feel important to them too.  You cannot pay attention to your children when you are always engaged with the other parent because you are responding to their silly and upsetting gestures toward you.
  3. Give your children an opportunity to have a “voice” and a “vote” in the planning stages of the activity.  This will create positive anticipation in their mind and you will notice how quickly it calms you and your children down.
  4. The power of planning an activity together will generate more than positive anticipation for both of you.  It will also bring a closer connection to your children.
  5. When you “string out” the planning of the activity as well as set a date off into the future, you generate hope that both of you will be together for a long time since children feel that tomorrow is a long time away.
  6. You create a positive and healthy excitement between you two that has not existed since the conflict began.  (Adrenaline addiction can also be an excitement, but it is not positive or healthy) and it is due to the conflict not the children.
  7. Positive anticipation is one of the most magical concepts you can develop with your children.  You can end the conflict with your children almost immediately and you can protect your children from bad effects of divorce and ongoing conflict.  It is so simple that most people miss it.
  8. Planning activities and implementing them with your children over a long period of time will create a very close connection to your children.  It will also help you as a part to stop reacting to the other parent.  It is really an amazing opportunity and it works!
  9. As you create a powerful bond with your children the other parent may ramp up, trying to get you to reengage with them over silly and minor comments and actions.  You will begin to see this for what it is, and you will be able to stop responding to the other parent’s attempts to get you to play war with them.  This may not happen overnight, but you will notice it quickly.
  10. Planning activities together will give you and your children a chance to get your life and your family back the way you wanted before the conflict took things out of proportion.
  11. Activities you can plan together may be as simple as making breakfast together the next time you will be with the children on a weekend.  For example, discuss the ingredients you will need to get together for pancakes or eggs and bacon.  Write the ingredients down and plan on going to the store together to get the ingredients the next time you are together.  You want to “string out” the activities that will lead up to making breakfast together to get the maximum excitement from your children.  You will invite your children to participate in every part of the planning and implementation stages in order to get into their imagination and expand their sense of curiosity, wonder, and excitement about making breakfast together.  Any activity will work that you plan together.

I call this concept “Stringing Pearls with your Children.”  You can learn more about this concept by watching my videos on Stringing Pearls and reading more of the blogs that describe it.

Understand that you can string pearls with your children every day with the activities you normally do for them, but often parents do not realize that involving the children will connect you to them in a way that will immediately end your conflict.

More examples of ways you can “String Pearls with Your Children” include:

  1. Planning a picnic to a park in a few weeks;
  2. Building a club house together in the backyard which will take several weeks;
  3. Planning a birthday party which will be a month away;
  4. Planning a secret dinner for someone in the family that will happen several weeks away;
  5. Organizing the garage together to make room for crafts and supplies you will be making together;
  6. Setting up a corner in your home for their artwork, stories and awards;
  7. Decorating the children’s bedroom;
  8. Working together to create a “family business” that engages the children in talking about money, responsibility, planning, organizing, researching, and creating positive anticipation.

Get started right now ‑ think of something you want to do with your children.  Think of all of the activities that must be completed to create the event.  Then write them out and start engaging the children in the planning, researching and implementation stages of the event.  Go have fun and note what happens to your own excitement level with your children and your ability to disengage from the craziness of the fight!

Dr. Deena Stacer is an International Parent Educator for parents involved in child custody conflicts.  Parents can take online coparenting classes at www.ParentsInConflict.com/lessons.  The courses can be taken online at any time 24/7.  Parents can spend time taking the courses online for as long as they want each time they login.  A certificate of attendance is available after the parent has attended the course.

Dr. Deena Stacer can be reached at Doc@DeenaStacer.com or by calling 800-980-0434.

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