Most parents seeking a divorce are generally very concerned about the emotional and psychological health and wellbeing of their children. They wonder, is divorce bad for children? In fact, some parents choose to remain in their unhappy marriages, believing it is better to protect their children from any trauma brought on by a divorce.
However, parents who choose to divorce have several reasons to believe that their children can weather the emotional storms brought on by a divorce and ultimately lead happy, fulfilling lives. Based on recent research presented in Scientific American, studies have shown that only a very small percentage of children suffer serious long-term emotional problems following a divorce. These findings that may help you, and your children, create strategies to help you navigate this difficult time in a healthy way.
How to Lessen the Effects of Divorce on Your Children
Even though children of divorced parents typically adjust well in the months and years following, a number of strategies can be used to minimize problems they may experience.
- Children will fare better if both parents are cautious about exposing their children to the conflict they are experiencing.
- If one or both parents are experiencing their own emotional upheavals as a result of the divorce process, seeking mental health counseling services to address their personal concerns will not only benefit them but their children as well.
- Parents can provide a supportive environment for their children during the divorce by speaking with them in a clear and age-appropriate manner about why the divorce is happening and what the implications will be for their schooling, living arrangements and other concerns they may have.
- During, and after, the divorce, parents must be sensitive to a child’s fear and uncertainty and provide extra caring and emotional support without being overly permissive. Parents will want to let other adults in the child’s life (teachers, coaches, scout leaders…) be aware of your family’s situation and encourage them to inform you of any changes in behavior your child may be exhibiting when in their care.
- Children with easygoing temperaments who are comfortable seeking social support are typically more resilient in the face of a divorce or family crisis. If your child’s personality is more withdrawn or prefers a higher degree of consistency and order, addressing their needs through all phases of the divorce may be beneficial. Consider participating in family-based counseling or finding a counselor that specializes in children or adolescents so these children can receive the support they need.
In addition, scientific research does not support the view that children who experience divorce are at a greater risk for having emotional problems in adulthood. In fact, most studies demonstrate that children of divorce go on to become well-adjusted adults. Studies highlight that those adults who believed their psychological well-being was compromised by their parents’ divorce often cite issues such as change in socio-economic status, lack of consistent parenting, inability to establish relationships with adults, and instability in living arrangements as on-going events that negatively impacted their development as children and adolescents.
While some children will have difficulty adjusting, for the overwhelming majority, divorce is not bad for children. The good news is that with attention, care, and being willing to enlist outside mental health support when needed, long-term harm can be avoided. Most children, including yours, can bounce back and make it through this challenging time to become stronger, happier, and more-confident in their ability to survive and thrive.
To read the full article, visit http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-divorce-bad-for-children/
Laura Monty Law is based in Fort Collins, but serves clients across Northern Colorado. Are you seeking the services of a divorce attorney? Give us a call or fill out our online contact form.