One of the most painful complications from divorce is its effect on children. For many couples, children are the primary reason that divorce does not happen sooner; parents are more likely to stay together and try to work things out than couples that have no children. For some couples, children may be the reason that they stay together for many years, even if both parents are unhappy. The fear that children are going to suffer in some way that cannot be fixed lingers for many parents. However, a recent article points out that this may not be so; in fact, staying together “for the sake of the children” may be more harmful in some cases than divorcing.
Kids Bounce Back
A study done in 2002 at the University of Virginia shows that a majority of children will have a rough time at first when their parents separate. During the early days of divorce, children will often suffer anxiety, anger and disbelief. However, the findings also show that by the second year things are typically starting to change and the child is becoming accepting of the situation.
Beyond the initial impact of the divorce, studies show that in the long-term most children are able to adjust and take a healthy attitude towards their parents. A study at the Pennsylvania State University in which they compared the children of divorcees to the children of married parents across various ages showed that, on average, there were only small differences between the two and that the children of divorce had not had longer-term emotional issues as a whole.
Not The What But The How
One surprising thing that the study found is that more parental conflict surrounding the divorce event might actually help kids adjust better. The reasoning behind this phenomenon is that muted conflict is hard for a child to translate into a divorce, but high level of conflict makes sense to them when it comes to divorce. These children may actually see the divorce as a remedy for the fighting. However, it is important to note that this applies to older children, not very young ones, and that the definition of “conflict” does not include abuse or other extreme forms of discord.
Growing Up With Divorce
Some say that children of divorce do not experience the adverse effects of divorce until they hit adulthood. But the studies that support these findings are not completely accepted by most researchers. Some children of divorce may experience difficulties in adulthood, but the best numbers available indicate that this may affect only 15 percent of children of divorce, and may be caused by several other factors.
In the end, the children are not defined by divorce but more often are defined by the ability to parent well even while divorced. Divorce is not going to ruin children. They can lead normal lives if the parents are willing to put aside their differences and work together to help each other parent successfully.
Staying in a marriage just because of the kids is not necessarily the best option for them. As couples consider divorce they must think about how they can minimize the difficulties in divorce that could affect the children negatively. If you or someone you know is considering getting a divorce and needs legal representation, call the Men’s Legal Center. These attorneys are experienced in the issues of divorce and can help you minimize the conflict inherent in any divorce issue as well as protect your rights as a parent.