Every year, more than 1.5 million children in the United States experience parental divorce. In almost all of these cases, the parents will be racked by guilt, and doubts about whether the child will be able to cope with the fact that his parents are no longer married to each other. In fact, fear about how a divorce will affect children is one of the main reasons that people continue to stay in unhappy marriages.
As it turns out, there is no conclusive evidence that clearly establishes that divorce is harmful to a child’s psyche. In fact, a growing amount of research now seems to find that the percentage of children, who deal with the negative emotional fallout of a divorce for years after, continues to drop. One study recently found that only a very small percentage of children, whose parents divorced, continued to struggle with emotional or psychological problems later as adults.
That does not mean that divorce doesn’t affect children at all. In one study conducted in 2002, researchers found that children will experience negative effects of the divorce, like anger, shock and anxiety. However, those negative effects only last for a short duration, and over a period of time, disappear. Typically, those negative reactions to the parental divorce may disappear by the second year after the divorce.
In fact, many children of divorced parents actually seem to do just as well as children of married parents when you monitor them over the long term. When these children were followed from childhood into their teens, and well into adulthood, the study found that there was very little difference between children of parents who were married to each other and divorced parents on a number of social measures, including the children’s academic achievements, their social and romantic relationships, emotional reactions, and other measures.
It’s hard to say that divorce is good for children, but there is an increasing amount of evidence that clearly indicates that it isn’t all bad either.