Divorce and Child Adjustment: Good Co-Parenting Is Vital
- Monday, July 30, 2001
By Linda S. Mintle, Ph.D.
More than half of all marriages end in divorce, and according to Barna Research, born-again Christians are slightly more likely than non-Christians to go through a divorce. Even more frightening is how all of this affects our children. The importance of developing a cooperative and co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse cannot be overstated when it comes to helping children of divorce.
Divorce has become a common occurrence in and out of the church during the past 50 years. In fact, heres a frightening statistic: According to Barna research, born-again Christians are slightly more likely than non-Christians to go through a divorce. Why is that frightening? Because, as Christians, we should be modeling reconciliation and grace to one another, not divorcing. Apparently we arent doing too well.
If you are recently married, you have a 50 percent chance of getting divorced. If you are remarried, your chance of divorce rises to 60 percent. Two-thirds of you who will divorce and separate this year have minor children (Cherlin & Furstenburg, 1994). I know many of you never wanted divorce and worry about the effects of divorce on your children.
Children can be amazingly resilient when it comes to divorce. On the other hand, adults and children experiencing divorce are two to three times more likely to seek mental health services than family members who stay together.
Here are additional facts found by researchers Ahrons (1994); Hetherington, Bridges & Insabella (1998). It is difficult for one-third of former spouses to form healthy adult relationships with each other after divorce. Some adults (5-15 percent) completely fail in their efforts. Children of divorce, separation and remarriage have more adjustment problems (25 percent) than those (10 percent) with parents who dont divorce.
Children from divorced versus intact homes are twice as likely to have emotional and behavioral problems such as depression. Yet, most children from divorced homes adjust and grow up to be competent adults (Amato & Booth, 1997; Hetherington et al., 1998).
In trying to decide what is involved in good child adjustment to divorce, you must consider other aspects of your divorce, e.g., the degree of parent conflict and adjustment, parenting skills, involvement of both parents with the children, economic conditions and other stresses.
The importance of developing a cooperative and co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse cannot be overstated when it comes to helping children of divorce.
Ask God to give you the grace you need to deal with an ex-spouse, to agree on parenting plans and to reduce conflict. You may have to live out Luke 6 - love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you. God will honor your response and give you sufficient grace.
Dr. Mintle author, professor, Approved Supervisor and Clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy is a speaker and media personality, as well as a licensed clinical social worker with twenty years in psychotherapy practice.
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