Divorce is hard on children.
Quarreling parents, financial uncertainty, stressed parents, and a sudden move from the family home are all factors that affect your children's stress level, self-confidence, and performance in school.
Research on the Effects of Divorce on Children
Numerous studies have examined the effects of divorce on youth and some of their findings are disturbing.
- Researchers from the University of Toronto recently concluded that children from divorced families are more likely to take up the habit of smoking. Men whose parents had divorced before they turned 18 had 48 percent higher incidence of smoking.
- In 2007, a researcher examined data collected between 1994 and 2000. She discovered that 13.2 percent children of divorced parents were taking Ritalin versus 3.3 percent of children with parents who had stayed together.
- A University of Wisconsin-Madison study concluded that children of divorced parents often fall behind their classmates in math and social skills, and are more likely to suffer anxiety, stress, and low self-esteem.
- A 2010 study found that the more change children are forced to go through, such as a divorce followed by a remarriage, the greater the difficulty they may have in finishing school and obtaining a high school diploma.
- Divorce can repeat itself. Children from divorced families are more likely to divorce their spouses when they become adults
Even the most amicable divorces are stressful. Spouses worry about their financial future, the status of the family home, retirement earnings, spousal support, and child custody issues. Children worry about having to switch schools, feel their parents' stress, and depending on their age, worry about how the family's financial future will affect their own future.
There are ways that you can assure your children during this tumultuous time in your life.
- Refrain from arguing in front of your children. Yelling at each other in front of your kids will only make everyone more stressed.
- Make your children's well-being a top priority. Spend time with your children by participating in board games, going to a movie, or attending their games if they are active in sports.
- Never force your children to take sides. They will eventually resent you for doing this.
- Present a united front. Instead of blaming your spouse for decisions made, explain that the two of you worked together to make the best decision possible for the family.
- Don't communicate with your spouse through your children by asking them to convey messages. Pick up the phone and call your spouse.
- Never speak poorly about your spouse in front of your children. Remember that despite your feelings about your husband or wife, your kids continue to love both of you.
- Talk to your children early on about possible changes that could affect their lives, such as a reduction in the family income or needing to find a new home