The connection between divorce and children is an intricate and complex one. Whether you approve of it or not, divorce is here to stay, but the effects of divorce on children are more complicated than meets the eye.
Divided Research Results
On an average there are around 1.25 million marriages that end up each year. This means that more than a million children live in broken families.
Statistics on divorce show that two out of five children have faced divorced parents before reaching the age of 18. 25% of the children are spending time with step-families. Yet, research on the effects of divorce regarding the long-term effects of on children and their future development is still divided.
Some time back, there was an article in the Time magazine ‘Does Divorce Hurt Kids’? The article presented the conclusions of long-term studies on the effects of divorce on children of such parents. The findings have been published in the book ‘The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 year landmark study”. It concluded that a significant number of children nurtured permanent scars that lingered till adulthood. It expresses itself in various forms:
- Juvenile delinquency
- Low grades in school and college
- Fearing failure; fearing commitment
- Trauma and Stress
Other Effects of Divorce Impacting Children’s Future
- Unhealthy childhood resulting from divorce psychology
- Strained parent child relationships
- Economic hardships
- Psychological problems
- Behavioral problems and substance abuse
Not so Simplistic
So, how does divorce affect children? From the above, can we conclude that it will lead to definite doom for the children? Or is it possible that the children from such a marriage can recover and be just fine? The question concerning divorce and children is complicated and the answer cannot be a simplistic one.
Researchers note that children deal differently with the separation, so it cannot be categorically stated that all children will be scarred for life as part of the consequences of divorce.
Positive Impact of Divorce on Children
If the parents are able to do a reasonably good job of controlling the conflict and hatred between each other, the kids could turn out to be much better in future.
Looking on the bright side, while considering kids and divorce, the positive impacts possible are:
- Increased resilience in life for children after divorce
- Increased sense of responsibility
- The breakup may be painful initially, but many kids adjust well given time
- Anger, shock and anxiety can be short lived and they disappear within a few years
- Better adjustment to challenges in life, due to early exposure to trauma
- Children find it a relief after witnessing endless fights between the parents
External Factors of Divorce Impacting Children
Having said that, there are also many external factors or variables that could turn the impact on children of divorced parents, either way:
- As far as divorce and kids are concerned, the age of the child is important (most of the evidence suggests that the younger the child, the more negative the impact on the future development of the child)
- The gender of the child (Girls adjust better than boys after such a trauma)
- Pre existing conditions (If the child already had problems in adjustment even before the conflict, these could be exacerbated after the divorce)
- Psychological condition of the custodian while coping with the traumatic situation (for instance, if the custodian mother goes through depression or anxiety during the process, this can negatively impact the social adjustment and future development of the child)
- Contact with the non custodian parent (if the child does not have much contact with the non custodian parent, with whom he/she had a good bonding or relationship, it could be detrimental to the child)
- The nature and intensity of the conflict (if the parents had a high level of conflict during the relationship, the effect on the children’s future development could be worsened)
These and some other variables that can influence the development of the child. When all such complex questions are answered, we can predict the outcome of divorce problems on the children’s life.
Impact of High Conflict in a Divorce on Children’s
Let’s check out the impact of high conflict between the parents and the consequences of divorce. Co parents who have a highly conflicting relationship can wreak maximum damage for the child’s development.
- The children experience difficulties in relationships
- They are not able to make friends in school and are not able to date the opposite sex with ease in later life. These are the divorce effects on children’s future relationships.
- They hare not able to have a happy married life later on in life
I’d say it’s highly impossible to stop such legal separations. I’m not advocating remaining in a loveless marriage. You surely cannot be expected to cling on to an unhappy marriage for the sake of your children. But what’s good for the parents need not always be good for the children.
All I’m saying is that you could avoid the harmful conflict occurring later, by following these simple rules:
- Maintain a friendly or neutral relationship with the partner, as it could lessen the negative impact on the children.
- Make sure to have a rational discussion with your partner on this point.
- Do not indulge in violent comments or actions in front of your children.
- Remember that your children still need both the parents, even if you do not need your partner any more.
Protect your Children
The causes and effects of divorce are diverse. By itself, it cannot harm a child, but the intensity and the duration of your conflict with your partner has the potential to scar him/her for life and mar future development.
You have it in you to protect the children from such a future, ease their pain and make them more resilient. You can create a difference with the variables, so even parents in a split up relationship still have hope.
Use the factors that can protect your children from the potential negative effects of a divorce.