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Children of divorced parents - Do we understand them?


By Dr Sr Judith Lewis UFS

Mangaluru, Oct 10: We are living in a world where marriages are becoming more and more fragile and divorces are on the increase. One tragic side-effect of all marital separations and divorces is the plight of their children. No sufficient attention is paid in our society to the reality of mental agony and torture the children in such situations are made to undergo. Let me highlight some recent cases that came to me just to bring out the seriousness of the subject:

Instance 1: A 6th class boy came to me with eyes full of tears and hurt deeply in heart. He said that his parents have been separated and he lives with his mother. Sometimes his father calls him over the telephone, but his mother scolds him whenever he responds to his call. All the time she speaks negative of him. “I want to see him but my mother does not allow me to meet him. Every day he was helping me to do my homework. Now I cannot concentrate and have no interest in the school and I get low grades. But my mummy beats me and scolds me for poor results. My mother does not understand me. I miss my dad very much. I feel so sad when my classmates speak about their dads. I feel I have none. I cry sometimes at night and my mother scolds me even for that.” This child is suffering with deep emotional wounds, but his mother does not understand him.

Instance 2: A fourth standard girl expressed her agony: “my parents are compelling me to choose - either to live with daddy or with mummy. But I want both. Both love me.”

Instance 3: A second standard girl bemoaned: “My daddy disappeared suddenly. I asked mummy, where has he gone? But she simply gets angry when I ask that. Why should she get angry? Has my daddy gone far away for work? Why he went without telling me? When will he be back?”

All this, makes crystal clear to us that the broken home can disrupt and confuse the child’s world. Most of the time the couples think that either separation or divorce is the best solution to resolve their marital conflict. But these adults hardly show any concern towards the plight of their kids and take such drastic measures which bring untold misery in the lives of their growing children. They hardly give a thought that things could get complicated for the child. In fact, we see terrible negative impacts on these children and their life in the school.

First of all the children of broken or divorced families get psychologically affected. The effect of divorce on children is psychologically damaging which could trigger into mental health issues in the children. Children’s mind becomes chaotic with emotional pain that generally gives rise to headaches. Their complaints of headaches to teachers become quite common. Another symptom related to parental divorce is ‘asthma’. The parental conflict could give rise to emotional trauma in the children, which can result in the onset of asthma in some cases and if the child already had it, it is bound to become worse.

Still another prominent negative manifestation is shyness and lack of self-confidence. Both actually go hand in hand in the case of children of divorced or broken families. This is because the child is missing parental love and communication with affection, which make them withdraw into their own shell, take shelter in loneliness and become discontented in life. In the school they feel diffident to open themselves up in social interaction. They become dull in co-curricular activities, gradually become introvert, moody and lifeless. They start day dreaming and their concentration power dwindles.

Another widespread problem of these children is anxiety. For every little thing, they become anxious. This can develop into serious mental disorder if proper help is not given to them. They need counselling sessions or cognitive behavioural therapy so that they overcome irrational fear and anxiety. If not, the fear and anxiety can spread to every aspect of their lives. They will be afraid to leave the house alone, to communicate with peer groups and to handle even ordinary situations.

The most common adverse effect will be on their schooling which invariably gets disrupted, and their progress gets diminished. This is because too many negative thoughts bounce around their little heads, making them worried, nervous and sad. There are cases where some such children become hyperactive and violent, and some others get into the habit of stealing. These children need regular counselling and keen observation of their behaviour in the school.

In conclusion, what we can affirm is that a marriage links the children to parents. Every communication of the parents is observed keenly by the children; even non-verbal sign language sends messages into their sense organs affecting their behaviour. Many a time the tiny children suffer silently when problems of relationship crop up between parents. And they are unjustly victimised. Without doubt they will be psychologically affected throughout their lifespan. So they should be counselled at right time.

It is becoming more and more certain that the children learn many things just by observation and it is not necessary to dictate to them everything.


By Dr Sr Judy Lewis UFS 

(Sr Dr Judy Lewis UFS, Sampoorna Counselling Centre, St Ursula Convent, Bolar, has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and Counselling from St Thomas University, Manila, Philippines. She is presently working as counsellor and animator in Mangaluru, Udupi and Bengaluru. You can reach her at Judylewis77@gmail.com)

 


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Comment on this article

  • Fr anil, St Joseph's cathedral chikmagalur

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    Nice article dear sr Judy all the best for the next

    Reply Report Abuse Agree

  • Latha, Bangalore

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    Very nice and thought provoking article. Congratulations Sr Judy.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [1]

  • Nicholas, Canada

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Indians copying westerners not fully but the part which suits their need.
    In western country even after divorce parents will be friends most of the time & the kids meet both the parents but in India after divorce both parents act as enemies & this creates negative impact on kids.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [7]

  • veena, Israel

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Dear sister Judy
    Very good inspiring article . congratulations.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [6]

  • Anil Monteiro Kottigehara, Kottigehara, Mudigere

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Very nice Article. It is the need of the hour. Congratulations.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [6]

  • Fr Vincent D Souza, Capuchin, Banakal, Mudigere

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Very nice and thought provoking article. Congratulations Sr Judy.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [8]

  • Arun DSouza, Qatar, Kulshekar

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Dear SR.Judy,
    Very good inspiring article . congratulations thank you.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [5]

  • Steevan Dsouza, Dubai/Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Super article...

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [12]

  • Sam Kuwait/Kundapura, Kuwait/Udupi

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Dear Sister Judy very good inspiring article.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [11]

  • Lancelot, Bantwal

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Dear Sister Judy very good inspiring article.I hope it will be effective your thoughts.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [13]

  • Mangalurian, Mangaluru

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    It has been said that in 10 out of 10 marriages in the Western world, women initiate the divorce.

    With the laws being what they are, much gains are to be made - after the children are born, of course.

    The trend in India seems to be identical.

    So, before understanding the children, I wish men are able to understand the wife.

    Regardless, the children lose big time.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [16]

  • Rita, Germany

    Thu, Oct 11 2018

    A good article passes to the new aera generation.Previously women used to stay with all husbands beating ,drinking and and.because they had no education and couldnt go back to their parents.We see here number of such cases with divorced children.Many of men divorce wife because of a youngerone.left are children wife ,sometimes both fight like pulling a rubber band.children dont know where to go because they want both.sometimes men dont give aliments. ,try to escape then it effects their budget.A indian woman who had a lover before marraige ,married and got a son.later she divorced husband ,went to her lover but demanded a lot of money ,forbidden the husband to have any contact with son till he is 18.I find this not good to a child.he needs a father during his childhood as a adult he doesnt need a father.children need parents in childhood.later they have friends.many times it is a sorrowful situation .to see a child with only one parent.They silently cry ,cant resist the father or mother,but get aggressive when spoken about parent.let parents decide about childrens situation but not own.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [2]

  • Reginald, Kuwait/Udupi

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Dear Sister Judy .
    Wonderful article.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [11]

  • Jason, Jason Thottam/Udupi

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Dear Sr. Judy Hearty congratulations to you for the inspiring and thought provoking article. God bless you.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [12]

  • Anticorrupt, Mangalore /Kuwait

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    I did not even read the article. The title itself is alarming and food for thought.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [18]

  • James Philip D sa, Belman/Kuwait

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    I partially agree with the above article about the impact of parents separation on children mind. I have seen many children (not all) growing / becoming more stronger and excelling in all the fields those who are brought up without the love & care of their parents. Many of the children (not all) who are having care, love and happy atmosphere become just failures and chosen wrong paths even after providing the best care, love and required facilities.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [24]

  • R.Bhandarkar, Mangaluru

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    Now look at Arun .V !
    What Ego of women...Mangalore and Udupi..?
    The best of them stay here...Right? And beautiful also ...if i may add
    And when we say others have Ego what about us?
    It's only the egoistic that call out others as having Ego! Got my point?....
    And when this article is about the plight of children of divorced parents..you are giving a clarion call for men's rights! Not done.
    Be the change ....

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [11]

  • Arun V, Kulshekar

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    This is because of Ego that most of the Women have specifically from Mlore & Udupi . Mens write needs to be made official to save our Men!

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [13]

  • R.Bhandarkar, Mangaluru

    Wed, Oct 10 2018

    No we don't Dr.Sr.Judy.
    We often find these children bewildered and at a loss to explain their sorrow.
    Some are torn in their love for both.
    A suffering they undergo for no fault of their own.
    The horrifying scenario however is that we may see a lot of them in the near future in this jet set age.

    Reply Report Abuse Agree [14]

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