Important Steps Parents Can Take To Minimize Negative Side-Effects Of Divorce For Their Children
Divorce can be earth-shattering for everyone, but arguably no one suffers more than the children involved. That being said, while divorce has proven to have devastating impact on these young people at the time, some research now suggests that these children do not experience long-term side-effects.
In an article in Scientific American Mind, authors Hal Arkowitz and Scott O. Lilienfeld acknowledge that while divorce is often extremely trying for children, studies show that as these children become adults, few experience lasting, serious effects.
While the divorce is occurring, and even in the period following, it is typical for kids to experience anxiety, anger, depression, shock, etc. However, Arkowitz and Lilienfeld argue that all of these negative effects are short-lived. In support of this, they point to a study conducted by sociologist, Paul R. Amato. Amato’s research followed kids whose parents divorced during childhood, into their adolescence and teenage years. He then compared those children to others whose family remained intact. The results showed that there were relatively few differences between the two groups of children. Ultimately, those with divorced parents typically recovered quickly and handled the divorce well in the long-run.
Minimize Negative Effects Of Divorce Using Emotional Support and Honest Conversations
While the authors seem to agree with Amato’s conclusions, they also recognize that there is always research to the contrary. In this case, other studies have shown that even though children of divorce seem to be ok, many of them experience negative effects later on in life which causes them to struggle with things such as depression and healthy relationships. Of course, several steps can be taken by parents in an effort to try and minimize these negative effects as much as possible.
For example, the article suggests reducing the exposure children have to any conflict associated with the divorce and its process, making sure that they live in the custody of at least 1 parent who is functioning well, having honest and open conversations about the divorce, answering any questions the children may have, and generally just providing consistent discipline and overall emotional support.
Divorce is not easy for anyone. However, parents should take comfort in knowing that in the end, the children will likely grow up to be well-adjusted adults!
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Robert L. Mues
Robert Mues is the managing partner of Dayton, Ohio, law firm, Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues, and has received the highest rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Peer Review for Ethical Standards and Legal Ability. Mr. Mues is also a founding member of the "International Academy of Attorneys for Divorce over 50" blog.