In the last few years, higher-quality research has shown the negative effects of divorce on children have been greatly exaggerated. In the past we read that children of divorce suffered from depression, failed in school, and got in trouble with the law. Children with depression and conduct disorders showed indications of those problems before divorce because there was parental conflict before divorce.
Researchers now view conflict, rather than the divorce or residential schedule, as the single most critical determining factor in children’s post-divorce adjustment. The children who succeed after divorce, have parents who can communicate effectively and work together as parents.
In reality, children’s psychological reactions to their parents’ divorce vary in degree dependent on three factors:
– the quality of their relationship with each of their parents before the separation,
– the intensity and duration of the parental conflict, and
– the parents’ ability to focus on the needs of children in their divorce.
Prior studies showed boys had greater social and academic adjustment problems than girls. New evidence indicates that when children have a hard time, boys and girls suffer equally; they just differ in how they suffer. Boys are more externally symptomatic than girls, they act out their anger, frustration and hurt. They may get into trouble in school, fight more with peers and parents. Girls tend to internalize their distress. They may become depressed, develop headaches or stomach aches, and have changes in their eating and sleeping patterns.
Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D., LMFT
San Diego Couples and Family Therapy serves the surrounding areas of Sorrento Valley Road as La Jolla, UTC San Diego, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Poway, University City and Escondido.