Is Divorce Bad For Children?

A recent Scientific American article found that divorce may be painful initially for children, but that most kids adjust well over time. Researchers have found that only a relatively small percentage of children experience serious problems in the wake of divorce or, later, as adults. The article concludes that divorce affects most children in the short run, but research suggests that kids recover rapidly. Taken together, the findings suggest that only a small percentage of young people experience divorce-related problems.

Kids Recover Rapidly

On average, the studies found only very small differences in academic achievement, emotional and behavior problems, delinquency, self-concept and social relationships between children of divorced parents and those from intact families, suggesting that the vast majority of children endure divorce well.

Researchers have consistently found that high levels of parental conflict during and after a divorce are associated with poorer adjustment in children.

Bouncing Back

Even though children of divorce generally do well, a number of factors can reduce the problems they might experience. Children fare better if parents can limit conflict associated with the divorce process or minimize the child’s exposure to it.

Further, children who live in the custody of at least one well-functioning parent do better than those whose primary parent is doing poorly.

The article further found that although divorce is hard and often extremely painful for children, long-term harm is not inevitable. Most children bounce back and get through this difficult situation with few if any battle scars.

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