The Lingering Wounds: The Impact of Conflict on Children after Separation


Divorce and separation can be emotionally challenging for any family, but the effects on children can be particularly profound. When conflicts escalate and parents choose to separate, children often find themselves caught in the crossfire, grappling with the consequences of their parents’ discord. The repercussions of such conflicts can have long-lasting effects on the emotional, psychological, and social well-being of children. In this blog, we delve into the impact of conflict on children after separation, shedding light on the importance of mitigating these adverse effects and providing them with the necessary support.

Emotional Turmoil:

Children of separated parents often experience intense emotional turmoil as a result of the conflicts they witness or are directly involved in. Witnessing frequent arguments, hostility, and tension between parents can leave children feeling anxious, confused, and fearful. The breakdown of their parents’ relationship may shatter their sense of stability and security, leading to emotional distress, sadness, and even depression. Additionally, children may feel torn between their parents, experiencing loyalty conflicts that further exacerbate their emotional burden.

Psychological Consequences:

The psychological impact of conflict on children after separation can be significant. Constant exposure to conflict can disrupt their cognitive development, impair their ability to concentrate, and hinder their academic performance. It can also contribute to behavioral problems such as aggression, disobedience, and withdrawal. Children who grow up in high-conflict environments may struggle with self-esteem issues, have difficulty forming trusting relationships, and may even develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Long-Term Effects:

The effects of conflict on children after separation can extend far beyond childhood. Studies have shown that children who witness high levels of conflict between their parents are at an increased risk of developing psychological and emotional problems well into adulthood. The toxic environment they experienced during their formative years can shape their beliefs about relationships, leading to difficulties in establishing healthy and fulfilling partnerships later in life. Moreover, the trauma of parental conflict can negatively impact their ability to cope with stress and adversity, hindering their overall resilience.

Social and Interpersonal Challenges:

Children exposed to ongoing conflict may encounter challenges in their social interactions and interpersonal relationships. The turmoil they witness can affect their ability to trust others, resulting in difficulties forming and maintaining friendships. Additionally, the strain of parental conflict may lead to social isolation, as children may withdraw from social activities and events due to the emotional toll it takes on them. These challenges can hinder their social development and make it harder for them to build healthy support networks.

Mitigating the Impact:

While conflict between separated parents is often inevitable, steps can be taken to minimize its impact on children:
1. Shielding children from conflicts: Parents should strive to keep conflicts away from their children, refraining from arguing or discussing sensitive issues in their presence.
2. Encouraging open communication: Creating a safe space for children to express their feelings and concerns can help them process their emotions and alleviate their anxiety.
3. Co-parenting effectively: Establishing a cooperative co-parenting relationship, focused on the well-being of the child, can provide stability and support for children navigating their parents’ separation.
4. Seeking professional help: If conflicts persist or become unmanageable, involving a therapist or counsellor can provide children with a neutral and supportive environment to address their emotional needs.


The impact of conflict on children after separation is undeniable, as it leaves them emotionally scarred, psychologically vulnerable, and socially challenged. It is essential for parents and caregivers to recognize the potential consequences of their conflicts and take proactive steps to minimize the harm inflicted upon their children. By prioritizing their well-being, providing them with the necessary support systems, and shielding them from unnecessary turmoil, we can help children emerge from the shadows of conflict.

Mediating differences after separation can be a healthy way of resolving conflicts. Contact us today on (02) 4760 0470 to speak with a Mediator.