This article looks at how well children cope after a divorce and factors that can influence their development.
Most parents love their children unconditionally and will do anything to make sure their little ones are safe and happy. That is why on many occasions parents hold off on getting a divorce: they are afraid that if they split up, it will negatively impact their children. While it is certainly true that few children are happy when their parents announce that they are divorcing, parents should also be aware that numerous scientific studies have shown that children are far more resilient after a divorce than many people give them credit for.
Bouncing back after divorce
Children are surprisingly adaptable to new or changed situations, including their parents getting a divorce. Undoubtedly it is true that many children are emotional when their parents first announce they are getting a divorce. In the immediate aftermath of their learning of a pending divorce, it is not uncommon for children to display signs of anger, disbelief, and shock. Some children may act out, either at home or at school. It is sometimes advisable to let teachers know of the change taking place with the parents so that they can understand the sudden change in the child’s behaviors in the classroom.
However, what is important to remember is that these negative effects usually don’t last too long. Of course, that is dependent on how the parents present and/or involve the children in the pending divorce. As Scientific American reports, a number of studies have shown how children are able to bounce back quite well after the initial shock of a divorce wears off. One study, for example, followed two groups of children, one whose parents divorced and one who didn’t, through adolescence and their teenage years. The researchers found that there was little difference between the two groups on such measures as academic performance, delinquency, behavioral performance, emotional wellbeing, self-esteem, and social relationships.
Child custody makes a difference
However, one aspect of divorce that can make a difference to how well children develop in the years to come is the role that each parent plays in their children’s lives. As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, a number of studies have shown that children of divorced parents tend to perform better academically, emotionally, and behaviorally so long as both parents maintain an active role in that child’s life.
Surprisingly, this point is true even when the parents don’t particularly like one another. One study found that conflict between parents has a negligible effect on children so long as each parent remains active and involved in the child’s upbringing. In other words, children need to know that each parent still loves them, regardless of how the parents feel about each other.
Child-related issues tend to be especially fraught during the divorce process. Parents want what is best for their children, but at times the court process can seem confusing and hostile to all, including the children. That’s why anybody going through a divorce should reach out to a Family Law Attorney for help. An attorney can assist clients with many of the difficult issues that are raised in a divorce, including by ensuring that their client is able to maintain an active role in their children’s lives.