Study: Parents Often Underestimate How Divorce Affects Their Kids

Posted on Jan 14, 2014

A number of studies have found that divorce is hard on school-aged children. However, do divorcing parents really understand the difficulties that their children are going through during a split? A new study, conducted by the parenting website NetMums, has found that while parents might know that their children are struggling with the divorce, they often underestimate the extent to which their kids are affected.

The study surveyed 1000 mothers and 100 children under the age of 18, all from homes that had been affected by divorce. The survey found that many parents are in the dark—or in denial—when it comes to their kids’ feelings about divorce.

Specifically, the study found that:

  • Although 75 percent of parents thought that their children coped well with the divorce, only 18 percent of children reported that they had experienced a smooth transition.
  • Although just 10 percent of parents believed their children had heard a fight, 31 percent of kids reported hearing a conflict between their parents.
  • Although only 8 percent of parents said they had tried to turn their children against the other parent, 35 percent of children said that their parents had done so.
  • Almost one out of three children said that they were devastated by the divorce.
  • One in eight children blamed themselves for the divorce.
  • One in twelve believed that the divorce meant that their parents no longer loved them.
  • Twenty percent of children reported drinking to cope with the divorce.
  • Eleven percent of children reported engaging in self-harm.
  • Three percent reported using drugs to cope with the divorce.
  • Forty percent admitted they hid their feelings from their parents.

Those that conducted the study stressed that these shocking numbers don’t mean that you should stay in an unhappy marriage (studies have also found that children suffer in those situations), but that you should be extremely aware of your children’s feelings during and after a divorce.

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