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4 Worst Ages for Divorce for Children

By Life, Family Fun Team


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The worst ages for divorce for children are often during significant milestones of development which are sensitive to changes in family dynamics. Children experiencing divorce during these stages may struggle with issues, leading to longer-term problems. Understanding the impact of divorce on children during these pivotal periods is important for parents to provide proper guidance and support.

4 Worst Ages for Divorce for Children

4 Worst Ages for Children to Experience Divorce

1. Elementary School Age (6-12)

Unfortunately, the hardest years for a child to experience divorce is when they are in elementary school. At this age, they are too young to understand the deep compatibility aspects of a relationship, but old enough to remember events and the emotions they correlate with their experiences.

The combination of these aspects can lead to a child feeling as if the divorce is their fault. The added stress can lead to depression and deep-rooted trauma they may struggle to deal with for the rest of their lives.

2. Preschool (3-5)

After elementary students, the worst age for children to experience divorce is during preschool. At this stage, they are truly too young to understand why their parents just can’t get along. They are also too young to see divorce as a resolution.

The good news is that while children in their preschool years will feel stress at their parent’s divorce, it is unlikely they are mature enough to internalize their feelings and cause lasting trauma. It is recommended, however, to seek a child counselor who can help explain things to your preschooler to ensure they healthily work through their emotions.

3. Baby or Toddler (Under 3)

Divorcing a partner while a child is under 3 won’t cause any lasting trauma in a child, and it is very likely that they will forget the experience by the time they are 6. That being said, it’s important to note that children this young are not unaffected by a divorce.

Babies and toddlers spend most of their days learning about their world, and experiencing their parents fighting or constant yelling, can cause them stress. The stress can then lead to stressful reactions such as clinginess and increased tantrums.

Parents of babies shouldn’t worry about getting counseling for their children during the divorce process. However, they should try their best to keep the fighting out of earshot of their baby and stick to a comfortable routine as much as possible.

4. Teenagers (13+)

Teenagers aren’t unaffected by their parent’s divorce, but out of all the age groups mentioned, they are the least likely to experience lasting trauma from the experience. At the age of 13, most teens are starting to understand the emotional aspect of relationships and will likely agree with the reasons their parents want to split. They are also more likely to be understanding and may even be able to empathize with their parents.

Additionally, most teens no longer worry about their parent’s love for them and instead stress more about superficial things, such as how their social lives will change with the divorce. While it’s still important to ensure they have access to the support of a therapist, parents of teens don’t have to worry about the effect on their children nearly as frequently as parents of younger children.

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