For couples divorcing with kids, coping issues can sometimes cause unforeseen problems and delays. Acting out, fear, anger and anxiety may make the process more lengthy and painful for everyone involved.
Scary Statistics Demand Caution
A wealth of documentation proves that divorce has a stranglehold on the United States. The latest statistics by the US Census Bureau and other sources reveal that the rate of divorce hovers consistently around the 50% mark. Also documented across the Internet is a king's ransom of data about divorce and its significant impact on children. Take a look at the divorce statistics below for a clearer picture of how divorce may impact children.
- 50% of divorced mothers believe father and child contact is pointless. Source--Surviving the Breakup by Joan Berlin Kelly
- 85% of young people currently in prisons grew up without their fathers. Source--Fulton County Georgia jail populations & Texas Dept. of Corrections
- Almost two out of five American children don't consistently reside with their fathers. Source--US News and World Report
- Children raised primarily by single moms are 33 times more likely to suffer serious abuse and 73 times more likely to fall victim to murder. Source--Marriage: The Safest Place for Women and Children, by Patrick F. Fagan and Kirk A. Johnson, Ph.D.
The fear such information inspires warrants attention, but parents divorcing with kids must also take comfort in knowing that there are proven ways to prevent these outcomes.
Plan Proactive Preventions
The old saying, "prevention is the best cure" assumes a deeply profound meaning when it comes to reducing the negative effect of divorce on kids. As a parent, you already understand that you can't spare your children from all of life's abrasions, but with effort, empathy and vigilance you can strengthen their coping mechanisms during the entire process.
Just like most contemporary issues, divorce comes with an often burdensome load of information. Albert Einstein once said, "Information is not knowledge" and while that's likely true, it doesn't mean all information holds no value. The trick is learning how to glean useful data from conjecture, opinion and prejudice. The Internet holds the thoughts of a world in addition to professionally-developed theories and interventions. To make sure the data you acquire contains more than mere sentiment, try limiting your search to publications by mental health professionals, child psychologists and experts or divorce counselors.
While your vigilant quest for information is underway, don't forget that your child needs extra attention. In her own mind, her world is dissolving, causing fear, anxiety and perhaps even anger. Many parents who are divorcing with kids believe that children inherently understand the depth of the marital problems and don't need reassurance, but the reality is something else entirely. Even well-adjusted older children often come to believe it's their fault that their parents are getting a divorce. Don't spare the small things like frequent reassurances of love from both parents as well as telling your children that the divorce is not their fault.
Support from the Outside
Even when both spouses adapt well to a divorce, children may still experience serious problems. One of the most important ways of preventing some of divorce's negative effects occurs when parents recognize the need for professional therapy or intervention. Sometimes, giving children a venue of expression outside of the family lets them air their emotions in a safe, nonjudgmental environment and gain sound advice from a professional at the same time.
Divorcing with Kids Can Work
Emerging from divorce unscathed remains an elusive goal for families, but with tolerance, support, and positive co-parenting, children can endure and even thrive after their parents break up. By putting their differences aside and working together for the sake of the children, parents may feel they have regained a healthy sense of control over their own lives as well.