To many children, the idea of their parents getting a divorce can be very frightening. A divorce for children may mean moving into a new neighbourhood and abandoning their old life, which leaves them with an uncertain future. This uncertain future is often more terrifying to children than the upsetting situation at home. The tension and stress that exists at home can have many effects on children. The arguing and fighting between parents creates a very unpleasant and disturbing atmosphere for young children. Often times, when parents fight it causes kids to act up and do poor in school, this leads to falling grades and disciplinary problems. When couples divorce their children are left seriously troubled, socially withdrawn or disrupt, some may be in need of psychotherapeutic counseling to get them back on track. Children under the age of twelve, reared in a divorce family have more emotional and behavioural issues and do less well in school than children under twelve reared in a dual family.
Many of the problems that children of divorced families encounter are emotional. Most often, the first reaction that children have to the news that their parents are getting a divorce is fear. They show their fear by not wanting to sleep alone at night or they withdraw from certain situations. Children are helpless and dependent, so once they begin to realize that their family circle has been broken, they are not sure if they will be looked after as in the past. When one parent leaves the other, children believe that they too will be deserted, as their parent was. One of the most powerful unconscious fears of a child is that he or she will be deserted and abandoned by one or both parents (Roeckman, 1980). Many children assume that they were the reason for the loss of one parent, which brings on feelings of self-blame. Children try to resolve the anxiety that they are feeling by blaming themselves for what is happening.