There are articles that say children are not as affected by divorce as some think they are. There are articles that say children will never look at relationships the same way again and articles that say children have no sense of security when parents divorce. Dr. Phil says children would rather be from a broken home than to live in one.
So what's the truth?
I've worked with a lot of couples, families and single parents. I've seen good divorces (meaning there's little to no conflict) and I've seen horrible divorces that took years, tens of thousands of dollars and countless changes to temporary orders. Here's what I know.
Children hate divorce. Even in the cases where there is abuse, children don't like divorce. One of the hardest things adults tell me about divorce is that they feel like they aren't secure. Whether they're the ones moving or not, their house is not the same and they don't know what their future looks like. Why would it be any different for the children of divorce? The one thing adults have going for them that children don't is that they have been through major life changes in the past -- children of divorce likely haven't.
There is a lot of research that says that children of divorce do grow up without major social or emotional issues, but this research is also tied to parents who cooperatively parent. When children grow up in two homes where parents don't cooperate, there is research that shows that they can have issues socially and emotionally, that they may not feel as close to their parents and that they may not grow up in a lower socioeconomic status than children who grow up with parents who are able to cooperate.
None of the research is a rule, though. Every child is different. Every home is different. I've worked with parents who can't get along at all, but the children grow up with straight A's and have the chance to get into good colleges. I can tell you that children who grow up in two homes with parents who aren't co-parenting do have a different view of relationships.
So what can be done to limit the negative effects? I have yet to see advice that doesn't point to co-parenting as the way to limit negative effects of divorce. Every article and post I've read, some of which are real stories, tell the parents that being able to work together will limit all of this impact on their children. So where do you start? You can always find my YouTube page and check out the tips I have or you can take my course here.
From my personal point of view, I can tell you that as I do check-ins with my daughters, they tell me that anytime there is conflict with their Dad and I, they feel it. Obviously, we do everything we can to keep them out of it, but they still feel it.
Conflict is only one of the ways children feel the negative effects of divorce, there are many others. Like I said, each child is different. Comment below and tell me about your situation. You should be able to comment anonymously. If not, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell me about it, you may see a post or a YouTube video with tips in the future!
Karen Becker is an author, speaker and personal growth coach. She has a Master's Degree in Counseling and applies these skills when coaching clients. She has years of experience coaching clients in all areas of life: parenting, co-parenting after divorce and in personal growth/wellness. She can be reached at email@example.com.