Have Kids Under Ten?
What Harm Will It Do To My Kids If We Get Divorced?
Q: I have been married for 11 years and have two children ages 8 and 5. My marriage has been going downhill for the last three years. After seeing a marriage counselor for several sessions, I have come to the conclusion that there is no hope for achieving a happy marriage with my current husband and am considering divorce. How much harm will a divorce do to my children?
A: Divorce is a stressful even for children. This stress comes from a variety of sources, including separation from the noncustodial parent (usually the father), perhaps moving and changing schools, a decline in the standard of living, continued postdivorce conflict between parents, and parental remarriage. These stressors place children of divorce at higher risk for a variety of emotional and behavioral problems.
However, current research suggests that most children from divorced families do not suffer from serious psychological problems and develop into well-adjusted adults. In highly conflictual marriages divorce may actually improve the emotional well-being of children relative to staying in a conflicted home environment. The most important factor in a child’s positive adjustment to divorce is that the parents maintain a cooperative relationship throughout the separation, divorce, post-divorce period.
In addition, it is important for both parents to continue to spend time with their children during and after a divorce, and for the custodial parent to support the children’s relationship with the noncustodial parent.