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With study after study highlighting the negative and possible long-lasting effects of divorce on a child, some parents may feel compelled to avoid seeking the services of a qualified divorce attorney for as long as possible. Although one parent or even both are confident that the marriage no longer meets their personal expectations, haunting questions on how the divorce may affect their child arise. Will the child suffer academically, discover new-found behavioral issues or turn to substance abuse as a way to cope with the breakdown of the nuclear family?
Wendy Paris, contributor to Psychology Today and author of "Splitopia: Dispatches from Today’s Good Divorce" and "How to Part Well," draws not only on personal experience but several research studies to address these underlying questions. Paris, who knew that she could no longer stay in her marriage sought out researchers, clinicians, divorced couples and even adult children of divorce to solidify that she could raise a happy and healthy child following divorce.
Paris concluded that our adult preconceived notions of raising a child in a traditional family is the only way to raise a well-adjusted child could not be further from the truth.
Contrary to varying research, Paris looked toward the 80 percent of children who have adapted well following the end of the marriage. Sourcing a 20 year in depth study, conducted by psychologist Constance Ahrons who wrote, "We’re Still Family." Ahrons research led her to conclude that children of divorce can mature without the contrived negative associations of poor academic performance, marred social relationships and a lifetime of substance abuse and criminal activity.
Paris also cited two additional studies, one conducted by University of Virginia professor and psychologist Mavis Hetherington, Ph.D who followed 2,500 children of divorce over a 20 year period and Michael Lamb, professor at Cambridge University who completed a 2012 meta survey analyzing over one thousand childhood adjustment studies spanning the past four decades.
Hetherington’s research findings as well as Lamb’s data, summarized in "Mothers, Fathers, Families, and Circumstances: Factors Affecting Children’s Adjustment," both had similar drawn conclusions as Ahrons, children can lead happy and healthy lives post divorce.
Drawing from Lamb’s extensive research, Paris reiterated that although being raised in an intact family may be beneficial, what matters most to a child is knowing that he or she is loved unconditionally by both parents, even if the family had experienced a breakdown of traditional logistics.
Lamb further concluded that all children greatly benefit from emotionally stable parents who remain focused on co-parenting and those providing both discipline and love of which Lamb believes is possible to achieve even when the parents have divorced and are living separately.
Based on the afore-mentioned studies and personal experience, Paris believes that although parenting post divorce may require a new approach as well as a concerted effort to monitor and maintain a family’s emotional health, life following a divorce can and should inspire quality relationships not only for the child but for all those involved.
If you have been staying in an unhealthy marriage for the sake of your child perhaps it is time to discard the preconceived notion that life post divorce will immediately spell doom and gloom for your child. Seeking education and counseling may alleviate your stress in this regard but you will also need to seek out the services of a qualified divorce attorney.
At Martoccio & Martoccio, our experienced Hinsdale divorce attorneys understand the complexities of divorce. With over 75 years of combined experience we are accustomed to dealing with sensitive issues and work in the best interest of all involved. Contact our team at 630-920-8855 to schedule your consultation today.