When undergoing the divorce process, parents often feel anxious about potential long-term effects on their children. They may think of adults they know who come from so-called "broken" homes, who are now all grown up and resentful about their own parents' divorces. It's natural to be anxious about the long-term effects of divorce on children. But if you fear that your anxiety has spun out of control, know that recent research tells us the kids will be alright.
Take the long view
Parents who split up do so because they know that in the long run it's the best decision for everyone involved. While the dissolution of a marriage is painful, parents know that time heals. That's true for kids, too. Without a doubt, they will need to adjust to some pretty big changes in their lives.
But studies have shown that the majority kids (about 85%) bounce back. Furthermore, extensive research on kids' development through adulthood indicates that there are very few behavioral or emotional differences between children of divorce and those whose families remain intact.
Concern shows parental responsibility
When a marriage is dissolved, everyone in the family is understandably emotional. But it's important to remember that concern for your children's ability to cope is what makes you a responsible parent. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry advises that parents do their best to maintain stability while closely monitoring their children's emotional and behavioral patterns.
The AACAP also recommends telling children as soon as you can, with your spouse by your side, if possible. And, they suggest that parents walk that fine line between offering too much and too little information: keep it simple and straightforward. Let them know you will always love them and that it's not their fault. Doing so will help maintain security and trustfulness in all members of the family.
Try not to overdo it
Throughout the divorce process, you can rest assured knowing that your anxiety about your kids' wellbeing is normal and responsible, but it doesn't need to be excessive. The vast majority of kids whose parents divorce are doing just fine.
Pay attention to signs of distress in your children, and take care to note when it becomes too much for them to handle. It's a tough process. But in the long run, most children of divorce are no different from their peers.