One of the common and misguided notions about divorce states that the process negatively affects all children. Sure, divorce can be hard on most children because it ushers in a period of major change, but that does not necessarily mean divorce will have a long-lasting effect on them.
In fact, studies have shown that only a small percentage of children encounter serious problems in their lives that stem from divorce. Instead of parents forcing themselves to stay in a loveless, unhappy marriage just to protect their children, they might consider moving forward with a divorce and have peace of mind while doing it.
An educator at the University of Virginia conducted research that suggested most children are negatively affected by a divorce right after it happens. In the wake of the divorce, they can feel anxious, angry and shocked. However, the research also suggests that those feelings subsided by the end of the second year.
Yet another educator compared children of divorce to children who came from families that were fully intact. The researcher looked at these two sets of individuals later in life, examining their academic and emotional lives in addition to their social relationships, behavioral problems and other issues.
The researcher saw very little difference between the two. If divorce truly had a long-lasting impact on children, the difference would presumably be far more noticeable.
High levels of conflict during and after divorce can make it tougher for children to adjust to the new setting. However, a 1985 study proved that children who experienced high levels of conflict before a divorce were able to adjust to divorce easier.
It is important to consider the well being of children during divorce. Taking the right measures can help them adjust to the big change more seamlessly. Avoiding divorce is not the answer.
Source: Scientific American, "Is Divorce Bad for Children?" Hal Arkowitz, Scott O. Lillenfeld, March 19, 2013