How Divorce Affects Infants

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Adults may be unaware of how divorce affects infants unless close attention is paid to changes in eating, sleeping, and elimination habits. Studies indicate small children under the age of five respond negatively to adverse inputs or a hostile environment. Babies under duress caused by divorce may react by refusing to take a bottle or have increased susceptibility to colic. They may become restlessness or have digestive disorders, such as diarrhea or constipation, caused by nervousness or anxiety. Infants usually respond to a mother's emotional state and can sense when mom is under duress. Therefore, it is vital that expectant or new moms become cognizant of how divorce affects infants, and strive to remain as calm as possible while carrying or tending to a baby. Playing soft music, listening to Bible scriptures on tape, or meditating in prayer will help calm the mother and an unborn baby while undergoing the stress of a marital breakup. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

Even in the womb, a growing fetus may react negatively or positively to sounds, movement or physiological activity experienced in its mother's body. Pregnant women undergoing the trauma of a marital breakup may experience fluctuations in blood pressure that adversely affect the fetus. A distraught mother may likely deliver a depressed or distraught infant that may require intensive postnatal care due to a low birth weight or underdeveloped organs. Expectant women should refrain from becoming overly emotional or depressed, as adrenaline and other hormonal changes can cause gestational complications in an unborn fetus. How divorce affects infants in uteri is a valid concern for mothers and the obstetricians who attend them, if their objective is a safe uncomplicated delivery. Even while awaiting a pending marital dissolution, an expectant mother may consider temporarily moving in with family or in a less disruptive environment. During the 9-month gestational period, a pregnant female's focus should primarily be on being physically and emotionally fit, not on being embroiled in a nasty battle with an estranged spouse.

After birth, it is the responsibility of both parents to ensure that how divorce affects infants does not threaten the viability of a growing child. Estranged parents should refrain from arguing or fighting while an infant is present. It is better to separate temporarily than to have a violent exchange over a baby's crib. Children may not be able to verbalize fear or anxiety, but overt and covert reactions may indicate distress due to divorce. Because of an infant's awareness of adult vocal modulations or touch, a baby may be reluctant to be held by an abusive father or mother. Babies who grow up in a hostile environment may react to an angry or loud voice by shrinking away from its source. Some newborns may frown or cry in the presence of loud voices, especially during angry or combative conversation. Nervousness, jerky movements, or prolonged crying are indications of how divorce affects infants, especially when parents fight or argue in front of a young child.

An obvious result of how divorce affects infants may be apparent in domestic abuse cases. There is always the potential for child abuse when parents are violent or aggressive towards one another. During the divorce proceedings, mothers and fathers who are still living together may become so hostile that the atmosphere can become charged with violence. Divorce is so devastating that it brings out the worse in people. Frustrated fathers and mothers may strike out at one another in a fit of anger or rage. A mother who is the victim of domestic abuse will likely react by grabbing a crying child in her arms to bring comfort or protection from an abusive husband. God forbid if an innocent infant should come between battling parents. Many children wind up in the emergency room or worse when adults fail to refrain from arguing or fighting in the presence of minors. Parents that have difficulty cohabiting while trying to work out marital differences, or pending a final divorce decree, should separate immediately for the safety of a minor child. "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work" (James 3:16).

Covert evidence of how divorce affects infants may not be forthcoming until a child reaches puberty. Because babies under the age of two or three usually do not remember early childhood events, good or bad, the impact of a breakup may not be apparent to the casual observer. Infants are much more resilient than adults believe and tend to adapt to new situations and people more easily than older children or teens. Youngsters who are born in the most adverse conditions and survive horrendous experiences, such as sexual abuse, deprivation, or abandonment may have no lasting memory of a troubled infancy. Psychologists may attribute adolescent and adult behavioral problems to infant abuse or neglect, but negative experiences are usually buried deep within a child's subconscious. The grace of God enables the developing mind of an infant to purge out adverse events and experience the pleasure of the present. It is ultimately up to mothers and fathers to protect developing minds from the trauma of a marital breakup or divorce. The knowledge of how divorce affects infants should be an incentive for both parents to become more protective of innocent children as marital conflicts are being resolved.

How Divorce Affects Young Children

How Divorce Affects Young Children is beginning to be understood by psychologists but each case is different depending upon the support the children receive during and after the divorce. Other considerations include the amount of conflict that is between the two parents, the child's personality, gender, and if there is support from friends and other family members. If a young child has bonded with a parent and that parent is no longer around then suffering is greater. How divorce affects young children has been studied by professionals but most do not yet understand how much suffering takes place with a little one who is younger than three years old. Research shows that a child does not usually remember events that happen before the age of three. This is due to the development of long-term memory. However, there is no solid proof that this is a fact. "In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge" (Proverbs 14:26).

Infants can pick up on a parent's mood and emotional state. Infants often have upset stomachs and may not eat as well. Some have a condition called acid reflux so being upset may cause the infant to spit up more. Also, infants may cry more and not sleep well if there is upset in the home. How divorce affects young children can best be answered by a parent who takes care of the child everyday. Parents should not fight around infants and should calm down before taking care of the child. Yelling at each other may trigger crying and fussing. This is a sign that when there is strife in the family home an infant knows something is wrong. The only way the child knows how to react is by crying. Kids really do need reassurance and love at this time.

Preschool children understand that their parents are fighting. How divorce affects young children can vary depending on the youngster. Kids need to feel loved and safe. When parents are fighting and one spouse leaves a preschool child will probably feel insecure and be afraid of being abandoned. He or she may want to hold on tight to a security blanket or a toy. Don't be surprised if the preschooler demands more attention or becomes uncooperative. Be patient with the youngster and reassure him or her that everything is going to be fine. At this point, both parents need to be as present as possible in the life of their preschooler. Parents need to get along with one another around the kids and refrain from arguing. What is best for the preschooler should take precedence over everything else.

School-aged kids are going to have a very difficult time. They understand more than younger kids and are going to feel the separation of their parents more profoundly. They make think that the separation is their fault. Kids feel a multitude of different emotions just like adults do. How divorce affects young children depends on each individual child and the family situation. Children often complain with physical ailments when in emotional pain. Some of the common complaints include stomachaches and headaches. Adults should seriously consider getting some counseling for their school-aged children when going through a divorce. Don't send them in to a stranger to talk but go in with them and encourage their participation. Take them to church, pray with them, and give them all the support you can.

Researchers have studied how divorce affects young children in regards to gender. Boys raised by fathers seem to have fewer problems than ones raised by mothers. Boys need contact with their fathers. Girls raised by mothers have fewer problems than ones raised by fathers. Fathers tend to baby and spoil little girls. Youngsters seem to connect with the parent of the same sex but each child is different so this may not always hold true. Researchers have found that it is the quality of the relationship between the parent and the youngster that makes the most difference over gender. Again, parents should try to make a child's life as normal as possible. This is one reason why courts seem to favor joint custody. Joint custody allows the children to be with both parents equally.

Allow your child to talk to you about what is going on and be as truthful as possible. Don't make the other parent seem like the bad one but instead just explain that Mom and Dad are fighting too much and need time apart. If parents will both consider how divorce affects young children then they will realize what needs to be done to make the process less painful for everyone. Do not let the kids believe that the breakup has anything to do with them. Keep communication lines open and take the time to answer any questions they may have.

The ideal situation would be to work things out. Thinking about how divorce affects young children should make the two adults stop and pause. Go see a marriage counselor. Start going to church regularly and take the kids. If you start acting like a family, who knows, a miracle could happen. Do things together and spend lots of time nurturing the children. Pray and ask God to help you find the romance again. Go on a couples retreat. Go out on a date again and really talk to each other. Listen closely to what the other one is saying and try to understand his or her side. Make a decision to not allow self to speak the word "divorce." Do not let the thought enter your mind but be determined to make the marriage work.



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