According to new research published Thursday in theAmerican Sociological Review. children whose parents divorce perform worse in math and have poorer social skills, and they struggle more with anxiety, loneliness, sadness, and poor self-esteem than their peers whose parents are not divorced. They are also more likely to have trouble making friends and maintaining those friendships, expressing emotions positively, and getting along with other kids who are different from them.
The study examined data from a study of children who entered kindergarten in 1998 through the time those students were in fifth grade, and focused specifically on 142 children in homes where the parents had separated during the time the children were between the first and third grades.
In mathematics performance, children from divorced homes were 12% less advanced than children from intact homes. Interestingly, the same result was not found for reading scores.
Hyun Sik Kim, the study's author and a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said one of the conclusions that can be drawn from the study is that it is important to intervene early on for a child whose parents are going through a divorce.
The study also suggested that the primary factor that determines how a child will be affected by a divorce is the level of conflict in the home. Some children whose parents were going through an amicable divorce did not show extraordinary signs of struggle, but some children in homes with parents who were unhappily married performed at the same level as those from divorced homes.
It seems indisputable that divorce can be difficult on children. Ideally, all children would grow up in stable homes with loving parents who remain together. But even where divorce is inevitable, much can be done to make that transition easier on the children.
Source: TIME, "Children of Divorce Struggle More With Math and Social Skills," Bonnie Rochman, 2 Jun 2011.