New Study Addresses The Impact of Divorce on Teens

Are younger children or teens more likely to be affected by divorce in Michigan? Many parents assume that younger children will have a more difficult time when they learn that their parents are filing for divorce because they will not be able to understand the complicated issues that can lead to the decision to a dissolve a marriage, while teenagers at least can understand that relationships become complicated. However, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at The University College London, divorce hurts teens more than children. In other words, even though teenagers may be able to grasp some of the nuances of a relationship that leads to divorce, they tend to be more impacted by it in the present and in the long run.

Younger Children Recover More Easily From Divorce

The researchers looked at data from 6,000 different children whose parents got divorced and divided the children into two different age groups - under 7 and 7 through 14. Those who were in the 7-14 age group were much more affected by the divorce, showing signs of emotional problems related to their parents' decision to separate. Contrastingly, for children under the age of 7, divorce did not actually appear to have much of an impact in the long run. The researchers further divided those groups of kids into five specific age groups of 3, 5, 7, 11, and 14. They assessed many different psychological, emotional, and behavioral factors, such as their mood, behavior in the home and at school, and anxiety issues.

In addition to having a more immediate impact for adolescents and teenagers, divorce also tends to result in behavioral problems for more teens than for younger children. When a teen's parents get divorced, he or she is more likely to "engage in bad behavior and disobedience," according to a Global News article discusses the study. Furthermore, "as children [got] older" in the study, "their problems began to get worse." The children in the 14-year-old age group showed the most prominent behavioral and emotional problems. Next, 11-year-olds also showed significant indications of mental health issues as a result of the divorce.

Parents' Behavior can Shape Effects of the Divorce

It is not a given that children will respond negatively to a divorce. As one divorce counselor explained, adolescents often know when their parents are not getting along, and they often suspect that their parents may end up filing for divorce. Those observations alone are not what causes teens to suffer greater emotional reactions to divorce. Rather, what tends to be the most significant factor in how kids will respond to divorce is their parents' behavior.

Parents should have conversations with their children about the divorce as soon as possible. Those dialogues should be "open and honest," according to the article, regardless of the child's age. It is extremely important to get across to children that they are not at fault for the divorce, and that there is an atmosphere in which everyone can be honest, and the children can ask any questions they might have without being judged. Notably, the study showed that socioeconomic status was not a significant factor in how kids react to divorce. Rather, age and parent behavior were much more prominent factors.

Contact a Michigan Divorce Attorney

If you have questions about filing for divorce or need assistance with children and divorce, an experienced Michigan divorce attorney can assist you. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins today.