The impact of divorce on children and how to mitigate it

A recent opinion piece published in The Guardian suggested that there has been no change to the psychological toll of divorce on children since the turn of the last century. This would seem to tie in with conventional wisdom, which tells that that divorce is bad for children. People “just know” that kids of divorced parents tend to suffer, in terms of their emotional wellbeing, social life, academic success and mental health. However, The Guardian article only references two studies, one of which wasn’t even set up to examine the effect of divorce on children. Other studies have shown that the negative impact divorce has on children has been greatly exaggerated. But while psychologists and journalists can’t seem to agree on how much impact divorce really has on children, there are factors that are known to make thing worse, and things you can do to ensure you child remains as happy and healthy as possible while you and your partner separate. It’s no surprise that divorce is a huge upheaval for children. Psychology Today recommends the three Rs: Routine, Ritual and Reassurance. They claim regular visiting routines with the non resident parent, allowing the child to create rituals to regain stability and control, and constant reassurance that both parents love the child as much as they ever did will is the key to maintaining your child’s psychological health while you separate. On the other side of the scale, rows with and mistreatment of your spouse are said to be some of the main factors that can damage children’s wellbeing. However, divorce is a difficult time for all involved, and not everyone will always be able to behave as well as they would like. There are aids to help children understand and process what’s happening to their family, but ultimately it’s about doing what, as a parent, you think is best.

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