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The damaging effects of a high-conflict divorce on children

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2023 | Divorce, Family Law

Frequent fighting is one of the top reasons behind a divorce in California. While it’s good that the parents are ending the marriage to protect their kids from further damage, they must know that conflict during or after a divorce has a negative effect on children too. They must find a way to establish peaceful relations for the sake of their kids.

Low self-esteem

Children don’t have very developed cognitive and reasoning abilities. In fact, the rational part of the brain doesn’t fully develop until your mid-20s to early 30s. Teenagers and children are especially vulnerable. As a result, children often blame themselves for their parents’ divorce and feel as if it was their fault that their parents fought. When the fighting continues after the divorce, the negative effect amplifies. It’s only once the conflict stops that children can begin resting their minds.


When children watch their parents fight, they are more likely to get into relationships in which they fight with their partners. It’s what their brains have associated a relationship with. People grow up learning to do as those around them do. You could reduce their risk of bad relationships by finding a therapist to help them cope with their feelings around your divorce.

Drug use

Children may turn to drugs as a way to cope with their feelings. The increased risk of drug use is both a short-term and long-term consequence of a child having parents who fight a lot. If they learn healthy ways of managing emotions in therapy, then this reduces the chance that they will begin using drugs.

Having parents who fight a lot increases the risk of mental health issues in children. These mental health struggles may cause a variety of poor life outcomes like bad relationships and drug use.