The harmful effects of divorce on children

Divorce is awfully common In Nigeria today, there were 12,000 cases of divorce in Nigeria since 1975 and the chances that this number may triple before 2020 is very high.

There are also reports that the divorce rate is higher in the northern part of Nigeria. It would seem as though people divorce just for the fun of it these days.

The harmful effects of divorce on children

This is prevalent as a result of the rate of rushed marriages. Apparently, the society believes a woman is a failure if she has not gotten married at an early age, perhaps before she is 22 years of age.

Read: How to Divorce in Nigeria: Step by Step Guides, Documents and Requirements

We have seen examples of successful women, such as Linda Ikeji, Genevieve Nnaji, Rita Dominic, who are shunned because they are yet to marry.

Others are forced into marriages by their family members without having a clue of what marriage entails. Some marry because they have viewed Bella naija weddings for too long and now believe the fantasies there. Isn’t it better to marry at the right time, than to rush in and rush out to join the spinsters in waiting?

Personally, I do not subscribe to divorce, we are all free to make decisions on our lives,but where there is a child, the decision must be taken with caution as divorce is said to have negative effects on children.

I will discuss these effects.

Children who come from divorced households often demonstrate increased levels of anxiety compared to those individuals who came from intact households. They may constantly be afraid of basically everything especially of people abandoning them.

These children often have trouble academically. They find it difficult to concentrate and come up with good grades owing to the problems they face at home.

These children also struggle with occupational achievement, antisocial behavior such as refusing to participate in school activities, keeping away from peers, problems with intimate relationships as they find it difficult to trust people.

They also find it difficult to relate with their parents and often have anxiety, and they may be aggressive always as their homes are always a war zone.

Parents often involve their children in the divorce process which may have negative impacts throughout emerging adulthood . it is very common in Nigerian homes, that parents report their spouse to their children and may in the process, degrade one another for the child.

Separated or divorced parents use this system of degrading one another or turning the child against the other parent.
You may find that the parents even go as far as spoiling the child when with him do as to gain his favor.

Children who experience these strategies are likely to internalize the insults toward their parent and believe they are not loved and the divorce is their fault. They carry this blame for the most part of their lives as a result, they develop low self esteem and ultimately, depression.

Depression is a very serious problem and could cause a variety of problems such as mental health problems, engagement in criminal acts. It is also difficult for a person with low self esteem to get meaningful employment. It may also be difficult to the children to pursue a university degree.

Depression is a major risk factor for suicide. The deep despair and hopelessness that goes along with depression can make suicide feel like the only way to escape the pain. In Nigeria, most people rarely recognize symptoms of depression, until it has gotten out of hand.

You can hardly find a psychiatrist or shrink as whites refer to them in hospitals. This is a very serious problem and should be properly treated by a psychiatrist.

Children who are from broken homes tend to be the major target of bullies of their peers. They are seen as weaker in an emotional sense and so are perfect targets for bullies.

This constant attack may turn the children into bullies themselves, so as to punish other children for what they have suffered. Most of these children find it difficult to tell their parents about their problems, so they go through life enduring unnecessarily.

I did a study on children from broken homes a few years ago, and discovered that they often find it difficult to keep friends. They are always at war with friends as a result of lack of trust.

They also find it difficult to keep relationships, they end up over compensating and lose value in the eyes of their partner. A particular girl from a broken home, stayed in an abusive relationship because she didn’t want to be alone. One other girl, became a bitter feminist, constantly attacking men.

Generally, they find it difficult to give love because you cannot give what you do not have. Some guys become chronic womanizers because they do not want to be heartbroken so they break the hearts first. Other guys, treat their women as rags, probably because that is what they have seen growing up and believe it is how it should be.

The chances of them divorcing as well are over 70% and this is because children tend to copy their parents subconsciously. They may have little control over their actions and the trend continues, their own children may suffer what they suffered and go through the same phase.

Divorce, if at all considered, should be the last resort. People should properly understand the sanctity of marriage before going into it.

Please do not get married just to show off a ring or to be lifted from poverty or because your parents want you to be,or because your friends are all married.

Find a friend who understands you and is willing to stay with you and work things out as they arise and marry him/her.

Ensure that you properly understand each other, do not try to change any person after marriage, it doesn’t ever work.

Keep your friends, family, the public out of your marriage, talk to your partner and not the world. By doing all this, you will save your child the headache of going through a broken home.

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Bar. Princess Ogono is a Legal Practitioner and Content Developer at InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Roberts. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Roberts. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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