A divorce does not just affect the splitting couple; often, it’s kids that suffer the most. Depending on their age or level of maturity, some kids cope with their parents’ divorce better than the others. According to a study, a divorce in the family is emotionally damaging for the children, regardless if the parents help them cope.
One of the facets in the kids’ life where they feel the impact of their parents’ divorce is in their education. In a UCLA study, it was found that divorce impacts children’s education unequally. To be more specific, children from a more financially-stable family tend to have lower educational prospects compared to those with less financial standing. Why is this so?
How Divorce Adversely Affects the Education of Wealthier Kids
In the same social science study, researchers found out that it’s the unexpected divorce that creates more impact on the children’s academic performance, rather than the one that they can see coming. This unexpected divorce has the propensity to hit families with a seemingly more stable structure: the well-off, highly educated, and well-planned ones.
On the other side of the coin, children of divorced parents from a less-financially stable family get little to no impact as far as high school or college completion is concerned. That’s because they have already been living in a high-conflict environment. Therefore, they are predicted to have a lower level of academic achievement.
In conclusion, it is the children from a more established home that struggle to complete their education the most. A divorce can cause a decline in the academic careers of children from a wealthy family background. The children from a poor or dysfunctional family, however, tend to do better after a divorce.
What the Data Says
In the said study, the UCLA Professor of Sociology and Statistics, Jennie Brand, did a cross-reference of two sets of data. The socioeconomic and family backgrounds of 11,512 children and 4,931 mothers were evaluated to determine which parents are most likely to divorce and who were likely to stay married.
The resulting data were compared to the educational attainments of children of divorced parents and those who remained married. To establish the probability of divorce, Brand and her research team took into consideration some factors like socioeconomics, maternal depression, spousal differences, and relationship history, among others. What they found were:
- Children whose parents’ divorce was initially deemed unlikely to happen, but eventually did, were 6% less likely to graduate from high school than those whose parents did not divorce;
- The same children with divorced parents were 15% less likely to finish their college education versus those whose parents did not divorce.
- For children whose parents have a high divorce risk, it was reported that there was little to no influence on the possibility of completing their high school or college education after the split-up of their parents.
- Brand’s findings showed that these children already had troubled lives before their parents’ divorce and were already expected to have lower levels of academic outcomes.
- It was therefore concluded that providing stability can be extremely helpful in safeguarding the academic success of children whose parents have a high risk of divorce.
What Can Be Done to Help the Kids?
Some things can be done to ease the effects of divorce on kids. These can somehow help them retain their focus and emotional stability. Here are some helpful tips:
- Reassure them. Just because their parents are splitting up does not mean they are no longer loved.
- Keep communication open. Communication is essential, and it couldn’t be stressed enough. Encourage the kids to ask questions and to speak their minds.
- Validate their feelings. Let them know it is perfectly fine and normal to feel sad, hurt, even rejected – and help them find an outlet to express it. Allow them to hit a punching bag, to run or take a walk, to yell and scream their feelings out. When they need time to be alone and think, give them space, but assure them that they will never be alone and they always have someone to talk with. Encourage new hobbies, such as painting or pottery.
- Be consistent with the co-parenting arrangement. Ex-spouses should, as much as they can, stay amicable. Hostility between divorced parents causes the most emotional suffering in children.
- Be sensitive to the feelings of your children. Be extra sensitive to your child or children’s feelings, and advise those around her so they could also do the same.
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