New Findings on Children of Divorce

•Among children of intact families, 90 percent had fathers who contributed to their college educations, versus less than 30 percent of children of divorce.

Long-Term Consequences
•Otherwise well-functioning adult children of divorce must fight to overcome expectations of failure.
•Adult children of divorce lack a healthy “couple template” of marital partnership. The absence of a good image negatively influences their search for love, intimacy and commitment. They also say that they will not support their parents, especially their fathers, in old age.
•Adolescence lasts longer for children of divorce, because breaking free of their parents is more complicated than for their peers raised in intact families. Since many children become confidantes, friends and even mentors of their parents during and after the divorce crisis, emotional separation is more difficult.
•Divorce is often a stumbling block to higher education. In most states, a divorced father’s financial and educational responsibilities end at age 18, even if the father is affluent and holds multiple degrees.
•Having experienced divorce in childhood does not seem to prepare young adults for handling their own divorces differently.

Dr. Wallerstein questions many of our entrenched legal practices. All of the professionals involved in the divorce process -- judges, attorneys and mental health professionals -- need to reorient their thinking from narrowly concentrating on the breakup and parental rights to helping parents prepare for the long haul, especially when children enter adolescence and young adulthood.

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