Divorce is hard on adults but it is especially hard on children. Children often feel abandoned, or that something they did caused the divorce. Other reactions children have to divorce are sleep disturbances, fears of impending disaster, suspiciousness, under-achievement in school, poor peer relationships, emotional constriction, anger, and regression in behavior (such as bed-wetting).

Other grim statistics about the effect of fatherless children indicated that children of divorce are more likely to:

  • 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
  • 5 times more likely to commit suicide
  • 32 times more likely to run away
  • 9 times more likely to drop out of high school
  • 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
  • 14 times more likely to commit rape
  • 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution
  • 20 times more likely to end up in prison

A counterpoint to these statistics is to consider that our Harvard Law graduate, President Obama, grew up in a fatherless home, as did many other prominent people. Raising children in a home where the parents are at war with each other does not produce healthy children either.

State legislatures, at the prompting of Family Court judges, family law attorneys and other professionals that work in this area have attempted to help resolve some of these issues by requiring that divorce spouses take parenting classes before they are allowed to proceed with the divorce. Divorcing spouses have to take at least 6 hours of parenting classes. These courses focus on the detrimental effects that divorce has on the children and attempts to educate the parents to keep the problems between themselves and away from children. Other jurisdictions require that the parties submit to mandatory mediation on issues involving support and custody.

Preliminary reviews of these statutory requirements indicate a reduction in the number or cases that go before a judge for resolution in court. Psychologists suggest that the best way to minimize the impact of divorce on children is to:

  • Give them reassurance that the divorce is not their fault.
  • Explain to them how things will change with the divorce and how it will affect them.
  • Avoid making negative comments about the absent spouse in front of the child.
  • Allow the child to maintain a close and loving relationship with both parents.

Following these guidelines will help your child be the exception to the rule, rather than the proof of the dire statistics.


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