Does 'staying together for the kids' make sense?

This article looks at both the short-term and long-terms effects divorce has on children.

It is likely one of the most difficult decisions many parents have to make: whether to leave an unhappy marriage or to try to stay together for the sake of the children. The decision can be an unbearable one since many parents will gladly put their children's happiness ahead of their own. However, it turns out that the decision may not need to be as difficult as many people assume it is. A number of studies in recent years has found that divorce's effect on children is not entirely negative and that the majority of children eventually go on to become perfectly normal and well-adjusted teenagers and adults.

What the science says

As Scientific American reports, divorce has a complicated effect on the emotional and behavioral wellbeing of children. Undoubtedly, the initial shock of a divorce is very upsetting to children and that shock tends to lead to negative emotional and behavioral changes for the first year following the divorce. However, a 2002 study has found that those negative effects largely dissipate by the end of the second year.

The long-term picture is a bit more complicated. While researchers have found evidence that children of divorced parents are slightly more likely to develop relationship and behavioral issues in adulthood, that likelihood is only marginally higher than the outcomes that children of married parents experience. Furthermore, the difference between the two groups may not be due to divorce directly, but to other environmental factors, such as parenting decisions, poverty, and so on.

Children of divorced parents

Perhaps the most encouraging news that divorced parents can hear, however, is that the majority of children eventually come to see their parents' divorce as being in the best interests of the entire family. A recent survey of 14 to 22 years olds whose parents had previously divorced found that 82 percent of them eventually considered the divorce to be the right decision.

While that high approval rating may come as a bit of a shock, it shouldn't considering that the alternative for most of the respondents would have been growing up in a dysfunctional household. The vast majority of those surveyed said they would rather deal with a divorce than be raised in a household headed by two people whose marriage was no longer working.

Family law help

Divorce is an extremely difficult decision and one that should not be taken lightly. Being prepared can help ease some of the stress both on parents and their children. A family law attorney can help anybody who is going through a divorce understand what their options are. By having legal advice on hand, parents in the midst of a divorce will have the information and guidance they need to help protect the best interests of themselves and their children.