Names have been changed to protect the identities of individuals quoted in this article.
When Linda and Steve decided to divorce, they worried about how their eight-year-old daughter Shannon would react to the news. They quickly and amicably finalized the divorce to avoid dragging Shannon through an emotional battleground. To keep Shannon's life from having too many major upheavals at one time, they decided that she and Linda would remain in the family home while Steve moved to an apartment across town. Steve and Linda hoped that if Shannon's school routine and social connections weren't disrupted, the transition to a new family situation would be easier on her emotionally.
Eight months later, Linda is breathing a sigh of relief. Shannon seems to have adjusted well to the divorce. "Sometimes, I think Shannon is coping with our new living arrangements better than I am," says Linda. "She never causes a problem for either me or her father. In fact, she seems more helpful around the house than before the divorce
Jennifer wishes she were half as lucky with her eight-year-old son, Sammy. She and her ex-husband's divorce proceedings mirror those of Linda and Steve, yet Sammy's reaction to the divorce is almost the exact opposite of Shannon's. "I can't seem to reach Sammy," says Jennifer. "His grades are slipping in school, he lashes out at both me and his father over the smallest things, and he often refuses to do his chores. The hardest part for me is watching my bright, happy-go-lucky son transform into a moody, angry little boy."