Countless times I have sat in on meetings with parents during which they tell me that they stayed in bad marriages for the sake of the children. For years psychologists at continuing legal education classes have told me that staying married for the sake of the children is a bad idea. Well the hard facts appear to support the psychologists. I have come across an article in Scientific American dispelling the myth of divorce damaging children. Taking from the article, “[p]arents who split have reasons for hope. Researchers have found that only a relatively small percentage of children experience serious problems in the wake of divorce or, later, as adults.” Some of the highlights in the article assert:
In a 2002 study psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington of the University of Virginia and her then graduate student Anne Mitchell Elmore found that many children experience short-term negative effects from divorce, especially anxiety, anger, shock and disbelief. These reactions typically diminish or disappear by the end of the second year. Only a minority of kids suffer longer.
. . .[C]hildren from high-discord families may experience the divorce as a welcome relief from their parents’ fighting.
. . .
Yet scientific research does not support the view that problems in adulthood are prevalent; it instead demonstrates that most children of divorce become well-adjusted adults.
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Even though children of divorce generally do well, a number of factors can reduce the problems they might experience. Children fare better if parents can limit conflict associated with the divorce process or minimize the child’s exposure to it. Further, children who live in the custody of at least one well-functioning parent do better than those whose primary parent is doing poorly. In the latter situation, the maladjusted parent should seek professional help or consider limiting his or her time with the child. Parents can also support their children during this difficult time by talking to them clearly about the divorce and its implications and answering their questions fully
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The good news is that although divorce is hard and often extremely painful for children, long-term harm is not inevitable. Most children bounce back and get through this difficult situation with few if any battle scars.
This is good information for divorcing families. Please click here to read the original article.
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