Early studies on children of divorce found that divorce negatively impacted children in all sorts of ways. They struggled in school, found it difficult to adjust, suffered psychological problems long into adulthood, and often experienced issues in their own adult relationships. Divorce has changed a lot since then – it is more common, more socially acceptable, and it is far more likely that both parents will continue to be a part of the child’s life after the divorce. However, more recent studies have found that the effect of divorce on children has changed very little.
Possible Negative Effects of Divorce on Children
There is no shortage of studies on children of divorce. One published in Journal of Youth and Adolescence found that twice as many children from divorced families experienced a condition known as “destructive parentification” – a situation in which the child takes on parental responsibilities, possibly even caring for the parent themselves. The effect was found to be long-lasting, carrying into many of their adult lives. Many went on to experience anxiety or depression of their own and struggled with forming healthy romantic relationships.
Another study, done in 2007, found that children of divorce were twice as likely to experience poverty, which can affect many parts of their life. Statistically, they are more likely to suffer from cognitive and emotional problems if poverty occurs during infancy or during the toddler years. They are also more likely to struggle in school, have poor eating and exercise habits, become pregnant during their teen years, fall into drugs or alcohol use, and drop out of school. As adults, they are more likely to suffer from mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, and they are at an increased risk for trouble with the law, incarceration, early death, and to struggle with forming romantic attachments.
Parental Turmoil and Conflict Often the Source
Even though parents rarely intend to do so, they sometimes put their worries on their child. They become depressed about the dissolution of their marriage, anxious about their finances, or unintentionally associate their child with their ex. This can cause parents to rely too heavily on their child, have unrealistic expectations, and may even hinder the bond between parent and child. If these issues are present and addiction then becomes an issue, or if parental conflict continues despite the divorce, children are at an even higher risk for prolonged problems.
Thankfully, there is a solution. A six-year study, conducted in 2002, examined two groups of children: those whose custodial mothers attended a class to help them more positively and effectively help them and their children cope and communicate after divorce, and those who did not attend the class. Children whose mothers were in the first group, overall, had a better outcome. The problems typically reported y divorced parents were less likely, and the children were much less likely to suffer from mental or behavioral disorders, or to have abused drugs or alcohol by the completion of the study.
In other words, the key is to remember that, unless safety is an issue, parents need both parents to be strong, communicative, and attentive to their needs. Develop a parenting plan that works for your family, use it effectively, and seek support for coping with your own feelings and emotions about the divorce. Above all, be willing to listen and avoid parental conflict.
Our Compassionate Family Law Attorneys Can Help
No two families are alike, so no two parenting plans should be the same. A child’s unique needs and wishes, and the schedules, willingness, desires, and abilities of each parent should be considered. Extracurricular activities, schooling, and more should also be factored into the equation. Of course, it can be hard to ensure you are making the right decisions, and that you have considered all aspects of your child’s life.
Mevorah Law Offices LLC can help. We understand how important your children are, and we work hard to protect them and their rights. Contact our dedicated and experienced DuPage County family law attorneys today to learn more. Call 630-932-9100 and schedule a free initial consultation.
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