Divorce tends to be a stressful time, no matter who is involved. Parents who are considering divorce, though, usually face an additional set of challenges. There’s the specific concerns about child custody and child support, visitation and parenting time, but beneath it all, a common worry all divorcing Maryland parents tend to share is how their divorce may affect their children, both in the short term and the long run.
You may already know to expect some behavioral changes and difficulties immediately following your divorce. You may also be aware of the benefits of therapy and are already planning on family and individual counseling. Still, you may share the same fear of many others that stems from a commonly held belief that children of divorce are more likely to eventually go through a divorce themselves. Fear not; recent studies suggest your divorce may be emotionally beneficial for both you and your children.
Does your own divorce now mean your children will divorce later?
Psychologists and society alike have long assumed a causal link between parents divorcing during childhood and the children involved growing up to experience a broken marriage themselves. However, a recent study suggests that divorce itself perhaps isn’t to blame. Researchers analyzed data spanning 16 years and found that experiencing conflict — rather than divorce — was a better indicator of later breakups. Specifically, individuals were likelier to get divorced as adults if they had experienced high levels of family conflict as children that included issues such as:
- Financial worry
- Frequent parental fighting
The silver lining here is this: Children in such high-conflict family situations whose parents then divorced actually fared similarly to children whose family life had been low-conflict and whose parents had stayed married. The conclusion? It’s the high levels of conflict that are the problem, not the divorce itself.
Divorce can be the solution
The children who were most likely to get their own divorces as adults were those whose parents had stayed married and foregone a divorce despite a high-conflict family situation. Researchers believe this is because the family environment remained more stressful long-term than it would have had the parents split up. Frequent, repeated exposure to parental arguing and stress is less healthy for children’s overall well-beings.
Fortunately, this exposure diminishes when parents take steps to end the toxic situations by divorcing. Post-divorce, those children who are now in less stressful situations may be more likely to learn better conflict resolution skills that may, in turn, lead to a higher likelihood of successful relationships later on in their own lives.
The bottom line
This is not the only study of its kind to suggest similar findings. Other scientific evidence supports the conclusion that children’s well-beings tend to increase after parents divorce following a lot of marital conflict. The message seems to be that when you are happy, your children are more likely to be happy as well, even — or in some cases, especially — if that happiness is attained through your divorce.
If you’re concerned over how to make the process as low-stress and smooth as possible for your kids, a Maryland family law attorney who has experience working with divorcing families can provide you with guidance and support toward a brighter future.