A recent UCLA study finds that the academic careers of kids from stable families are more negatively impacted by divorce than kids from struggling families. Parental divorce tends to lower the educational attainment of kids, but only in cases where divorce seemed unlikely – kids who saw it coming tend to be more resilient.
Some may find it counter intuitive that kids from families where poverty and dysfunction are the norm fare better in a divorce when compared to kids of wealthier, well planned, higher educated families, but the study indicates that divorce is far more disruptive for kids that have it all when compared to kids who have weathered the storm.
In fact, children from families where divorce was thought of as unlikely, but nevertheless happened, were 6% less likely to finish high school than children of non-divorced parents and 15% less likely to complete college. Children that were used to instability tended to graduate high school and college irrespective of their parents’ divorce.
One of the lessons to be gleaned from the study is that there is a middle ground when there are kids involved in a divorce. Kids shouldn’t get dragged through the turmoil of failing marriage, but they should not be blindsided either. Ideally if there are significant changes that will affect the whole family including a divorce, it is important to establish open communication with children so they know what to expect.
Telling Children About Your Divorce
When you discuss divorce with your children, experts advise giving thought to the timing, setting and circumstances when you break the news, perhaps jotting down something in writing beforehand to gather your thoughts. Children benefit from a united message delivered by both parents when possible and will be less disturbed if parents take ownership of the marriage ending (rather than the kid blaming him or herself) and exhibit maturity despite their own feelings about the divorce.
Plan to continue the conversation when opportunities arise knowing it takes time for kids to digest and work through changes gradually. Kids are going to react with both positive and negative feelings so get ready for some fireworks. Let kids feel their feelings – relief, anger, frustration – even those that seem confusing or hurtful to you. Strive to be supportive and answer difficult questions honestly. Keep working at it and kids will grow stronger, while gaining new perspective that will help them move on more confidently.
For more information, contact our Lake county Illinois family law attorneys at 847-680-4970.