The pain of going through a divorce can be tremendous, but kids are often the ones bearing the brunt of it.
But divorces, once over, mean that children can also move on with their lives. A toxic marriage, on the other hand, can last for years – creating a more devastating effect on the kids than divorce.
1) They become more anxious and stressed
Of course, every kid learns how to deal with stressful situations as they grow up, but when it involves their parents it becomes a whole different matter.
Their home is meant to be a place of love and security. But if children grow up in a home where conflicts and fights are the norm, it becomes a place of hostility, affecting their ability to develop a sense of stability in their lives.
They become prone to higher levels of anxiety and many will experience knock-on effects to their mental wellbeing – insomnia and depression aren’t exactly unheard of in children.
2) They turn against themselves
Children are of course are still learning and developing their understanding of the world and themselves.
When growing up in the crosshairs of a toxic marriage, their stress levels can reach overwhelming proportions. This leads to behavioral responses to protect themselves such as isolation, excessive computer game playing, eating disorders – anything to either run away or numb themselves out.
3) They copy their parents behavior
The parents are the most influential people in children’s lives. They mimic behavior and pick up a range of habits – good or bad. Therefore, when toxic marriages are concerned, children also begin to believe that such conflicts, misery and strife are necessary in life, and become conditioned to accept this as normal behavior in relationships.
Remember, children only have one set of parents, and have nothing to compare their experiences with; they won’t know what it’s like to grow up in a stable household.
4) It affects them later on in life
After many years of witnessing a toxic marriage, children are likely to develop low self-esteem, feelings of unworthiness, and experience troubles when trusting other people. It’s very common that children even learn, on a sub-conscious level, to blame themselves for their parents problems.
This causes further hardships as they go through adolescence, which can be challenging enough as it is. Many insecurities are carried into adulthood, and cause people to to experience more serious, longer lasting psychological issues.
5) They struggle to build healthy relationships
Children feel frightened and intimidated when witnessing aggression, violence, and arguments by their parents. As a result they learn that it’s probably unsafe to express themselves for fear of becoming the target of similar violence.
This instinctual response to protect themselves can hinder their social interactions with friends or colleagues, making it harder for them to form close and meaningful connections. It’s not uncommon to discover that many adults who now find themselves in toxic marriage were actually once the child growing up in such an environment.
So, let’s not forget just how precious a childhood is and just how vulnerable children are to the negative consequences toxic marriages produce.
Let’s ensure that the impressions we give are positive and constructive so that our children can grow up to experience more peaceful and happy relationships.