Why children can cope with and bounce back from divorce

This article looks at how divorce affects children and how parents can help them through the process.

All too often people who are in unhappy marriages choose to stay in those marriages for fear of the harm a divorce or separation would do their children. In these cases, well-meaning parents often forsake their own happiness because they believe that doing so will be better for their children in the long run. While making such a painful decision is understandable, recent research suggests that it may be misguided. In fact, while it is true that divorce and separation are certainly upsetting for children, it is also true that children are surprisingly resilient and able to bounce back from their parents' divorce fairly quickly.

Short term versus long term

Of course, it would be wrong to suggest that divorce has no impact on children. Obviously, divorce can be very traumatic for children, but the more positive news is that such negative feelings tend to be relatively short-lived. As Scientific American reports, during the first two years following divorce, children tend to experience anxiety, anger, shock, and disbelief. However, such feelings dissipate considerably by the end of that second year for the vast majority of children.

Other studies have confirmed that in the long run children tend to bounce back quite well from divorce. Another 2001 study compared children of divorced parents to those whose parents remained married and found that both groups had similar outcomes in terms of emotional wellbeing, academic achievement, social relationships, and behavioral problems into adolescence and their teenage years.

Helping children through divorce

At the same time, parents can take steps to ensure that children are better equipped to handle life after divorce. In fact, as U.S. News & World Report points out, divorce can actually be harder for children and teens who have been raised in relatively stable households or who have been protected from their parents' marital conflict. The reason is that divorce in such cases comes as more of a shock, which can lead to anxiety and depression.

It's also important to note that every child processes divorce in his or her own way. While some children may internalize their feelings and become withdrawn, others may lash out in angry outbursts. Regardless of how a child reacts, it is important for both parents to remain open to their children and to ensure that their children know that their parents are still available to them. Such availability provides reassurance that even though their parents are no longer together, they will still be involved in their children's lives.

Family law

No two families are the same, which is why no two divorces are the same either. For anybody that is considering or going through a divorce or separation, it is important to reach out to a family law attorney today. An experienced attorney can provide clients legal guidance that is tailored to their unique circumstances, thus allowing them to transition through divorce with their best interests intact.