They are the questions that parents ask me most frequently when they are considering whether to file for a divorce. The parents want to know:
- How will my child be affected if I get a divorce?
- Should I continue to stay in my troubled marriage for the sake of my child?
- Will my child suffer as an adult because of my divorce?
While no one can answer those questions with certainty for your child, a recent article in Scientific American summarizes the findings from the more respected studies of how children are affected by the divorce of their parents. Some of the findings from those studies may be surprising to you.
According to the article, children are affected most acutely during the divorce and for a short period of time thereafter: “Divorce affects most children in the short run, but research suggests that kids recover rapidly after the initial blow.”
Researchers found in one well-respected study that many children of divorced parents initially felt anxiety, anger, shock, and disbelief. However, those feelings tended to subside and disappear the second year after the divorce.
Divorce doesn’t seem to harm most children’s long-term well-being. Several studies compared the children of divorced and married parents. Those researchers found very little difference in the academic achievement, emotional problems, self-esteem, and social relationships of children of divorced parents as contrasted with children whose parents remained married.
Children are most severely affected when the divorce is high conflict, which is why it’s critical for divorcing parents to try to remain as civil as possible. Parents should make sure to let their children know that they love them, support them emotionally, and provide as much stability as possible.
If one parent is engaging in behavior that is damaging to the children — such as parental alienation, it may be appropriate to limit the children’s time with that parent.
If you are considering a Charleston divorce, there is reason for you to have hope. Children are incredibly resilient, and they can — and most often do — bounce back after their parents’ divorce. You do not have to stay in a troubled marriage for the sake of your children.