Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Do Children Benefit from Divorce?
The question was asked on a website forum recently, Does Divorce Benefit Children.
Below is my answer, based on my empirical experience:
No! Children do not benefit from their parents' divorce. In fact they are as damaged as they would be from the sudden, violent death of one of their parents. They learn that life is not to be depended upon for safety, security, or happiness. They learn the cold of trying to fall asleep while crying about the loss of their "safe place" of home where they can be assured of security and encouragement from both parents who can reinforce each other's parenting.
As a stepfamily minister and family mediator since 1996, and a teacher of court-required classes for divorcing parents of minors, I've seen many, many detrimental effects of divorce on children. I've also heard many, many parents trying to justify their divorces by saying the children will be better off.
No, they won't be better off. As Judith Wallerstein points out in her book, What About the Kids?, children whose parents divorce are affected by the divorce the rest of their lives in almost every conceivable context, from their self-esteem and -confidence, to their social interactions, to their own marriages and parenting. By far most of the divorcing parents who come through my classes are children of divorce themselves who are just passing along the epidemic.
I've watched these scarred children try to fit into stepfamilies in second or third marriages. It is sad to see! They exhibit signs of trauma, insecurity, fear, distrust, anger, acting out, parental isolation, hostility toward the new adults, and most every other trauma-related behavior. Divorce is wrong toward your spouse to whom you've sworn to be true for life; it's abusive to your children who trust you both to care for them unselfishly.
STEPcoach Bob Collins