Preschoolers tend to be "emotionally needy," have fears related to abandonment, and may display acting-out behaviors following their parents' divorce or separation. Preschooler are likely to become very distressed during visit exchanges.
Although children between the ages of about 6 to 8 continue to have fantasies about reconciling their parents, they are less likely to blame themselves for the divorce. Children at this age have been found to experience intense grief over the loss of not having one of their parents living with them. The older child (ages 9 to 12) is better able to understand their parents' divorce. They are likely to consciously express their disapproval and tend to take the side of one of their parents. Anger at their parents is conscious.
Adolescents' ability to understand and conceptualize their parents divorce will enhance their adjustment. However, they are faced with the task of integrating the divorce experience with their own developing identities.
Boys and girls tend to react differently to their parents' divorce. As a rule, girls tend to become anxious and withdrawn, while boys tend to become more aggressive and disobedient. Girls from divorced families may become sexually active earlier than girls from intact families. Interestingly, boys often adjust better when their mothers remarry, while girls have more difficulty.