Many people debating, going through or have had a divorce are curious on if divorce is bad for their children. Being a divorced parent and a step-parent, it was my priority to make sure my children were healthy and happy. My unique and personal situation also allows me to help other parents going through divorce.
So is divorce bad for children?
About 50% of couples today get a divorce, although not all of these couples have children, about 1.5 million children in the U.S. are products of divorce each year. Many of these children do feel as if their world is falling apart, due to the instability, and some parents will stay in unhealthy marriages because of the fear of disrupting their children.
While most children feel sad, upset, or angry due to the divorce, research shows that only a very small percentage of children experience serious problems as a result of divorce. In fact, most children are only affected in the short run, and children reported recovering rapidy after the initial divorce. Children will often show minor behavioral or emotional challenges but usually this will diminish by the end of the second year.
Studies conducted that followed children for years after a divorce compared academic success, emotional and behavioral problems, delinquency, self-concept and social relationships and found that there was no difference between children with divorced couples compared to children with married parents. Also, the age the child was at divorce had little to no influence on their success in life either.
Researchers also have consistently found that high levels of conflict between parents during and after the divorce increase the potential for children to be more disruptive, have higher emotional and behavioral issues, and long term recoveries from divorce. Another factor that can cause longer recovery time is when children are surprised by the news of a divorce compared to children who have been around high conflict. Children in these situations reported being more relieved.
Overall, children that go through a divorce reported that in the long-term there was no significant difference between them and children of married parents. Although there is almost always short term effects, children recover within the first two years. Furthermore, it has been reported that children that have parents that continuously have conflict after the marriage report longer recovery times.
If you are going through a divorce and want to discuss the potential impacts it may have on your children, how you are going to support your children, and creating the healthiest environment possibly, consulting with a mediator can help guide you through this process to ensure that your children can recover and continue on to lead a happy, healthy life.