The Science of Divorces Affects on Kids

By Patrick George

Each year more than 1.5 million children in the United States watch their parents go through the struggle of divorce. This raises questions from all the parties including the children such as how will the divorce affect the kids, should I stay in an unhappy marriage for the children, and how the fighting is affecting the kids? The evidence shows that few children experience serious problems after divorce and there are ways to make it easier for them such as counseling.

In 2001, a study in Pennsylvania showed that children suffered far less after witnessing a divorce than was originally thought. In coming to this conclusion, the researcher looked at academic achievement, emotional problems, behavior problems delinquency, self confidence, and social relationships. The study ended up showing that there were minimal differences between children from intact families and children that came from divorced situations.

Another study in 2002 suggested that children really suffer the worst emotions immediately after the divorce occurs. These feelings include anger, shock, and anxiety, much like the grieving cycle. Thereafter, after a two year period, the children recover with little difference between themselves and children from intact families.

Of course, an additional worry could be how the children will function in future relationships. Perhaps the children will have a difficult time developing their own functional relationships or they will not be in favor of committed relationships. However, again children of divorce have been found to function just as well their peers from intact families.

Divorcing parents can make the situation easier for their children. The first is to limit or minimize the children’s exposure to conflict. Don’t degrade the other parent in front of the children. Make the children feel secure and important, safe and needed. Finally, don’t expose your children to financial struggles. There will undoubtedly be additional financial strain during the divorce and this brings uncertainty to kids. Don’t discuss it with them. Try to preserve as much normalcy as possible.

There are many sources that can help you. Counseling, family services, and the court house all can refer you to sources that help. Your children are you most important asset. Remember to keep them safe and in the forefront of your mind as you go through this process.


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