When parents in California go through a divorce, they often tell their children they will one day understand why things have changed. Unfortunately, this type of platitude fails to consider a child’s feelings. In some divorces, children end up paying a hidden price.
When the child becomes a parent
Depending on the circumstances surrounding a divorce, one parent may be poorly equipped to care for multiple children. If one parent has a mental illness, a severe disability or struggles with addiction, older children often have to take care of their younger siblings when they are with that parent. This leads to the “parentification” of a child, which is a term that refers to one child filling a parental role with his or her siblings.
What about when parents get old?
The second hidden cost of divorce that impacts children takes place many years after the divorce becomes final. If a child has no siblings, they are likely to become the sole caregiver for one or both parents in their old age. This long-term concept doesn’t usually come up during the divorce, but it creates issues for only children of divorced parents later in life.
When children feel forgotten
It’s not uncommon for one or both parents to prioritize their needs and interests over their children’s. This happens when parents enter new romantic relationships, often with people who already have children. Children from the first marriage often feel forgotten or replaced by parents who become focused on their new families.
The reduction of inheritance
There are several studies that highlight the importance and benefits of generational wealth. Unfortunately, children of divorced parents typically see a decrease in their inheritances. This becomes more problematic when parents leave more of their assets to children from their second marriages.
While divorce is never easy on anyone, children often bear the brunt of the difficulties. Offering children as much stability as possible during and after a divorce lessens the likelihood of these negative consequences.