Divorce Relevance to children
Divorce Relevance to children
There are few adults and parents who are not aware of the challenges and potential difficulties that divorce relevance on children.
There are literally thousands of books written about the impact of divorce on kids, both from a positive and a negative perspective. The good news out of this rather depressing research is that parents, through their actions both towards their children as well as towards each other, have a huge influence on how children will adjust to the divorce both in the short and long term.
No parent going through a divorce needs the added stress, anxiety and worry of how their actions are negatively affecting their children. By understanding how to minimize the negative aspects of divorce for children, knowing the typical responses of children to divorce, and working with the other parent to maintain the loving, nurturing environment that a child needs through the divorce, parents can help children to adjust to their new lifestyle.
Stressing parent co-operation and communication with regards to raising the child or children is critical, but so is being civil, respectful and positive towards the other parent with regards to their abilities to be a wonderful Mom or Dad to the child.
Many parents struggle to help their children cope with the emotional pain of divorce and learning to live with Mom and Dad in two separate homes. Very few children, or parents for that matter, find that the time they get to spend together is enough. Mom and Dad working together to accommodate each other schedules and the schedules and needs of the kids will help in addressing some of the inequity that is inherent in co-parenting through a divorce and after.
Divorce is no longer an uncommon occurrence in most countries of the world. While countries in North America tend to have higher divorce rates than other developed and developing countries, there are still some common trends and numbers to divorce around the world.
PREVALENCE OF DIVORCE
It is estimated that the overall divorce rate in the United States is approximately 51% and in Canada it is 48%; Japan’s divorce rate is about 27%, Australia is around 40% and Great Britain has a divorce rate of about 38%. The number of divorces per year tends to be increasing in many areas, with second and subsequent marriages having a higher overall divorce rate than first marriages.
As the number of divorces continues to rise in most areas and countries, so does the cultural acceptance of divorce. In the United States alone about 1.5 million children will experience divorce every year, and these are only kids that are recognized through the courts.
In many cases such as step-parent divorce, the child may not be included in these numbers because they are not included in the dissolution of the marriage. Step-parent divorces can be just as problematic for the child, however, especially if they were close to the step-parent and saw them as a support person in their life.
RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH PARENT
Perhaps one of the most damaging side effects of divorce is the lack of parental involvement by one or both parents with the children through the divorce. If parents are not able to put their children’s needs and emotional security in front of their own they run the risk of destroying the relationship with their kids, thereby increasing the chance that the children will have emotional and behavioral problems directly related to this damaged relationship.
It is concerning to note that:
40% of all children that experience a divorce do not have regular contact with their biological fathers within one year of the divorce
Kids living with a single parent are more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be involved in gangs and criminal activities and less likely to graduate from high school or obtain a college degree
Children that don’t have a mother and father role model in their lives are more likely to engage in high risk behaviors, become sexually active much earlier, have lower self-esteem and seek attention from others rather than being satisfied with their own feelings of achievement
75% of all teenagers at chemical abuse treatment programs are from single parent families and report infrequent or no contact with the non-custodial parent
According to research children of divorce that live with one parent and have no contact with the other parent are at greater risk for certain health conditions such as asthma (almost 50% higher risk),
headaches, speech problems, learning difficulties, separation anxiety issues and school related behavioral problems
Kids that have routine, constant and positive interactions with both parents on a frequent basis have the fewest health, emotional and behavioral problems
Children with both parents involved in school progress and contact, even when they are divorced, have higher graduation rates, better grades and are less likely to drop out of school
The research is very clear. It is not so much the divorce itself that causes the stress on the children; rather it is disengagement or neglect of one or both of the parents that is damaging to children. Both parents have to work together with each other and the child to ensure that the relationship between both parents and the child remains strong throughout the separation and divorce as well as in the years to follow.
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SIBLINGS
During the divorce the relationship between brothers and sisters or step siblings can become damaged, just as the relationship between parents and children can be affected. Many older children are called on by parents to provide additional care for younger brothers or sisters, and this can really lead to resentment from the older kids.
Sometimes younger children may also try to assume parenting roles with younger siblings if they see Mom or Dad becoming stressed or incapable of taking on a parenting role. It is critical to keep things as normal as possible between the siblings in the family; don’t ask kids to assume roles they are not ready for or roles that they resent.
There is naturally going to be some tension between kids, especially if one child is very angry or upset over the divorce and is refusing to communicate or spend time with a parent. Keeping the lines of communication open, speaking positively about the kids and to the children and encouraging them to keep on being good brothers and sisters to each other is critical to maintain their relationship with each other