The last divorce law was enacted in Ireland at the end of February, 25 years ago. Despite dire warnings at the time that divorce would be the death knell for family life as we know it, the divorce rate in Ireland was still far below the EU average. However, a large body of research (usually from the US, where divorce rates are higher than the EU average) shows that divorce has a negative impact on children and adolescents.
or for example, research has consistently found that children and adolescents from divorced families do worse on average than children from intact “nuclear” families. In the United States, this is reflected in estimates that children of divorced parents have an 8 percent lower probability of completing high school and a 12 percent lower probability of entering college. On a more positive note, a study has shown that children from high-conflict families (before divorce) can do better academically after divorce.
Psychologically and emotionally, divorce also has potential negative effects. An Australian study found that children living with both parents are about half as likely to have psychological and emotional problems requiring help as children living in step-parent families. , hybrid or one-sided. Studies have shown that rates of depression and anxiety are higher in children of divorced parents. However, given the academic finding, children from high-conflict families often show an improvement in their emotional well-being after divorce.
However, none of these studies suggest that divorce is bad for children at all. Children’s outcomes will always depend on them and their parents. For example, children whose parents are warm, supportive, actively focused and able to demonstrate effective problem-solving skills tend to have lower negative outcomes from divorce.
Another factor that helps reduce negative impacts on children is being able to co-parent peacefully, as children are less exposed to hostility and feel less “stuck.” In most situations, children will feel loyalty to both parents and so any split between their parents can make children feel they have to choose one parent over another. , this can be very distressing. Even minor tensions between divorcing parents can add to a child’s distress.
Avoiding deliberately putting your child in the middle will also help. For example, not using children as the forerunner, if direct communication between parents is not possible, means that children are less likely to find themselves in awkward situations. It also helps when things are relatively stable, after a divorce, physically and practically, so that children can feel safe and their lives can return to some routines and patterns. predictable.
It also helps to be aware of the possible emotional turmoil a divorce can create. Broadly speaking, young children, for example, may not fully understand why they now have two homes. They may fear that if their parents no longer love each other, they may also stop loving them. Elementary school-age children may fear that they are the cause of their parents’ separation and may believe that their behavior is the reason. Older children and teenagers may understand the reasons for the divorce but may feel distressed about the breakdown it is causing them. They may blame one or both parents for the disruption.
While it can be easy to reassure your child or teen that these types of fears or grievances are not warranted, it is even more important that you be a good listener, showing your child that you can see their point of view without judgment, or without rushing to “fix” the problem.
This is also where effective communication between divorcing parents can also be really helpful as it means their children are more likely to get a consistent response in both households. Consistency in listening and empathy, when matched with consistent discipline (holding limits and boundaries firmly but not punitively) provides the basis for children and adolescents to develop skills their own coping capacity.
Good quality listening also opens the door to helping children and adolescents manage the complexities of their thoughts and feelings after divorce. Since you can’t predict how they will feel, the goal should still be to help them feel any hurt, confused, worried, or frustrated. When you understand their feelings, you can help them understand theirs. It then allows them to process those emotions in a more positive and proactive way.
Divorce is here to stay and sometimes (in high-conflict families) can be good for children. In all other cases, it can be a challenge for children, but a challenge that can be managed with planning and support.
https://www.independent.ie/life/family/parenting/25-years-of-divorce-in-ireland-what-does-the-research-say-about-its-impact-on-children-41425868.html 25 years of divorce in Ireland: What does the study say about its impact on children?