A guest post from Dr. Kristine Turner:
I was recently asked to answer a few questions by a reporter who was doing a piece for a publication, and I realized that these are often the types of questions society has about divorce. They are typically asked by folks who like to judge, but haven’t actually experienced divorce themselves. Here are some researched responses that I think would be helpful for the population at large to appreciate.
- What is the impact of a parental divorce on the kids that you council? On their childhood/upbringing?
Divorce doesn’t have a positive or negative impact on children. It’s their parent’s response to divorce that affects the kiddos. If parents are polite and cordial to one another, the children do much better than they do in the families where children witness their parents fighting or badmouthing one another. If parents can keep the conflict away from their kids, then children do fine with divorce, some kids even come out stronger post divorce, i.e. their family has survived a challenge and they are stronger for it. If parents fight then children struggle and you see the negative impact that divorce can have on kids.
- How has divorce changed children’s outlooks on relationships in their future?
The entire family structure is changing in America. There are many more acceptable ways to raise children. Single parents, married parents, gay parents, step-parents, grandparents; all these entities can get involved in raising children. I think that the children of today are more flexible with respect to who provides childcare for them, and they receive and therefore appreciate a broader range of parenting styles.
- What is the hardest thing for children to overcome as a child/teenager/adult concerning parental divorce?
Often children struggle with the change that divorce brings, but the most difficult aspect of divorce is watching Mom and Dad fight. Children want to love both of their parents, and seeing them fight is unnerving to most children. Hearing your Mom and Dad badmouthed behind the scenes is equally damaging to children.
- What are some of the key factors that cause divorce?
Divorce is caused by many factors, the most common are inaccurate marital expectations. Couples mistakenly think that the loving novelty of a new relationship will last forever. They fail to realize that relationships take work, and they often ask too much of their spouse. It’s typical for divorcing couples to have problems communicating their needs to one another.
One or both of the parties wants the other person to meet an unrealistic set of expectations in order to feel loved. These expectations are often poorly communicated and therefore never get met, hence divorce becomes the solution to the problem. In addition, marital expectations have become more than just a contract to raise kids together, couples desire
self-fulfillment from their marital relationships. When this doesn’t occur they often choose divorce.