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How Parental Anger Affects Your Children – During & Long After Divorce!
Rosalind Sedacca -- Divorce and Co-Parenting Expert Rosalind Sedacca -- Divorce and Co-Parenting Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: West Palm Beach, FL
Friday, May 24, 2024


By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC

Children have a difficult time understanding what your anger means.  They may experience shock, disbelief, fear, guilt, grief, confusion, shame and outrage by your aggressive tendencies.  Observe how your behavior is affecting the children in your home and realize that you are a major role model for them.

It is very likely that your children will grow to imitate your behavior and reactions – even if they disapprove of it at this time.

Adults are responsible for helping children learn appropriate behaviors and coping skills.  Without positive guidance children may experience the following behavior patterns resulting from your anger issues:

  1. Physical aggression towards others such as hitting, harming, screaming, kicking, etc.
  2. Sleep problems
  3. Feelings of inadequacy
  4. Increased fears, especially about losing a parent through divorce
  5. Depression/sadness
  6. School behavior problems
  7. Stomach aches, headaches, nausea and other stress-related physical symptoms
  8. Feeling their home is no longer a safe place
  9. Behavioral outbursts for no obvious reason.
  10. Poor peer relationships
  11. Guilt about bearing the weight of “secrets”
  12. Shame and anxiety about bringing friends home

Understand that children in households where parents are constantly fighting, where there is unhappiness and frequent tension, have a higher risk of developing many social problems. These include the inability to form friendships, school difficulties and many antisocial behaviors.  However, you can shield them from the harmful effects of divorce and marital conflict, by being an attentive, emotionally intact parent. 

Don’t ignore children’s expressions of negative emotions. Instead, offer guidance, patience and a strong positive influence. Reaching out to a child-psychologist or co-parenting coach can be quite helpful.

Children respond to parental anger differently at different ages and stages …

Preschool and kindergarten-age children

Young kids usually process difficult information through their play.  Encourage them to draw and act out scenarios with toys and dolls. Always be there to listen and support. 

School age children 

These children will probably have questions and may want explanations and details about why their parent is so angry.  Be sure to answer these questions age appropriately, to reassure and clarify concerns. 


Be available for your adolescents and teens, who will respond most intently to your anger. At this age most everything is taken personally and with a degree of resistance. Teens may be highly critical and judge their parents’ decisions because they do not accept separation or divorce that easily.

It is imperative for your children, whatever their age, to understand that the divorce/separation is not their fault, that they will always be safe, are very much loved, and that you will always be their parent. 

Never … 

  • Confide adult content to your children. Find a friend, therapist or support group to help process adult issues.
  • Tell “secrets” about their other parent or other family members.
  • Ask your child to “spy” on their other parent when you are apart and report back to you.
  • Pressure your child regarding custody issues or ask them to make a choice regarding which parent they live with. This puts too much pressure on their shoulders and creates deep emotional guilt and upheaval.
  • Put down or disrespect their other parent – even if you believe they deserve it. This, too, burdens your child with guilt, confusion and shame for still loving the parent you are asking them to hate.
  • Fight in front of the kids – no matter what! Find alone time to discuss difficult issues away from sensitive eyes and ears.
  • Discount the emotional turmoil divorce creates in children – even those who do not act out. Always talk to children of divorce with compassion, empathy and sensitivity. Put yourself in their shoes to see the world through their innocent eyes!

It is important to assure children that the anger you may express  is not directed toward them and that you are sorry for any confusion they may encounter. Try to follow established routines as much as possible. This helps your children experience less  disruption and still feel their world is secure.

You and your partner must always keep in mind that you will continue to be your children’s parents long after the divorce. That means you will be co-parenting your children for years and decades to come. When they experience friction between the two of you, they can easily lose confidence in you.  It also makes it difficult for you to discipline them, especially if you both can’t agree.

Be mindful that you never play your children against the other parent. It is essential for both parents to maintain a unified front when it comes to discipline.  This joint approach allows children to have a clear idea of what is and isn’t acceptable. Otherwise, you will learn quickly how easily your children can manipulate and undermine your authority.

You and your co-parent should make every attempt to not argue in front of the children.  They are easily confused and may think they are the cause of the argument.  Your child’s behavior can often “push your buttons” and make you feel angry.  Be aware that it is probably not the child who is causing your frustration, but the frustration from your situation that is really the trigger.

The more you understand how to manage your anger, the easier it will be to not take out your anger on your innocent children. Talking with an experienced family therapist or co-parenting coach will help you feel supported while implementing new techniques for better communication and more effective co-parenting long-term.

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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC is a Divorce & Co-Parenting Coach and Director of the Child-Centered Divorce Network. She is the author of How Do I Tell the Kids About the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children – With Love! To get her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting, and learn about her coaching services, programs and other valuable resources on divorce and co-parenting issues, visit https://www.childcentereddivorce.com

About the Child-Centered Divorce Network

A support network for parents, Child-Centered Divorce provides articles, advice, a weekly newsletter, books, coaching services, a free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues. Learn more at www.childcentereddivorce.com.
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Name: Rosalind Sedacca
Title: Director
Group: ChildCentered Divorce Network
Dateline: Boynton Beach, FL United States
Direct Phone: 561-742-3537
Main Phone: 5613854205
Cell Phone: 561 385-4205
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