Divorce can be toxic to childhood

Toxic ChildhoodBritish writer and education consultant, Sue Palmer, writes in her book Toxic Childhood, that children with divorced parents perform significantly worse than others, on academic tests. They display more conduct problems, poorer psychological adjustment, lower self-esteem and weaker social relationships. This is reflected in tears and tantrums, regression to immature behaviour and “the all-too familiar symptoms of distractibility, impulsiveness, egocentricity and lack of concern for others.”

Since divorce is gradually becoming more socially acceptable, children seem to suffer less trauma these days. Although children with divorced parents are no longer in the minority, the emotional pain of parents’ separation is not diminished.

During divorce, most adults are so overwhelmed by their own problems that they assume the children are OK, as long as they are not causing any major problems. However, with one parent already leaving the home, the children are too afraid to make any fuss, for fear of losing the other parent as well.

Research shows that parental relationships deteriorate over time, causing distress and insecurity in children, years before the divorce. As a result, children of divorced parents are more likely to suffer from depression, become alcohol or drug dependent and involved in crime. These children also tend to have unhappy marriages themselves.


Written by Sinta Ebersohn (Creator of fairdivorce.co.za – Stellenbosch)