Eighteen-year-old Richa (name changed) has had 15 affairs to date, twice tried to end her life and once came close to trying drugs. Though her parents parted ways two years ago, time has been unable to heal her psychological wounds.
Children are no longer the binding factor in marriages, say experts. In Gurgaon, 20 per cent children are severely affected by the fact that their parents are divorced or are on the verge of splitting.
Out of every 100 kids, at least one is suicidal.
And Richa is one of them. Her mother has her custody and she looks forward to her father’s occasional visits. But the ugly quarrels that ensue between her parents have made her suicidal, and to some extent, rebellious.
“I keep getting these cases where the child is under the care of a single parent and his/her food intake suddenly increases or reduces. Sometimes, the child also turns violent,” said Dr Brahmdeep Sindhu, senior psychiatrist at General Hospital.
Experts also site cases wherein children tend to project extreme behavioural patterns such as aggressiveness or social withdrawal, become quarrelsome or start bullying other children and even begin suffering from bed-wetting.
“I have seen 15-year-olds suffering from bed-wetting, which is a sign of a psychological weakness. Witnessing domestic violence every day triggers this rare condition among them,” added Sindhu, who sees nearly 30 such cases every month.
The first signs of these psychological changes in a child are usually noticed at school. A child’s academic scores may suddenly drop or even go up.
“This academic year, we saw four cases in which the child went into a complete shell. During the time of divorce, the child is completely torn apart between the two parents and is left absolutely confused,” said Surbhi Talwar, senior school councillor, Delhi Public School, Sushant Lok.
One of the biggest casualties for the child is a blow to the self-esteem. Talwar talks about a case where a child began to spin stories of her parents going out for late night dinners.
“We all knew her parents were getting a divorce and going out for dinner was out of question. But she used to make up these stories. That’s when I intervened,” added Talwar.
What worsens the situation is when a partner tries to malign the other to gain the child’s sympathy.
“A child is a mere reflection of the parents’ psyche. Both parents are needed for the healthy upbringing of a child,” said Dr Gitanjali Sharma, marriage and family counsellor, DLF City Phase 2.