One of the most common concerns people have about going through a divorce is how it will affect the children—and rightly so. Divorce is a slippery slope to navigate where the kids are concerned. Not only can it be just as painful for the children as for the parents, but it can also have lasting effects on the children psychologically, particularly if the divorce is handled badly.
I’m not suggesting that divorce puts every child at risk. In fact, in an article posted on the Scientific American website, Hal Arkowitz and Scott O. Lilienfeld cite several studies saying that most children are able to bounce back after a divorce to become well-adjusted adults. As a qualifier, the article also mentions that the odds are even more in the children’s favor when the divorce is handled well by the adults:
“Even though children of divorce generally do well, a number of factors can reduce the problems they might experience. Children fare better if parents can limit conflict associated with the divorce process or minimize the child’s exposure to it. Further, children who live in the custody of at least one well-functioning parent do better than those whose primary parent is doing poorly.”
This quote brings up two important points. First, your kids’ ability to adjust to the divorce may be directly related to the way you handle it with them. Second, your kids are more likely to do better after the divorce if you do better after the divorce. Thus, one of the best things you can do to help your children in the aftermath of a divorce is to take care of yourself—not just physically, but also psychologically and emotionally.
What about future relationships?
This brings up another important question: Where do your future relationships fit into this scenario? What sort of impact will future partners have on the kids?
Consider this interesting quote from a New York Times review of Andrew J. Cherlin’s book The Marriage-Go-Round:
“Divorce and breakup can affect children badly. But parents shouldn’t rush into another relationship just to provide a stable home. In one study by Mr. Cherlin and a colleague, the two found that every time a partner entered or left a household, the odds of an adolescent stealing, skipping school or getting drunk increased by 12 percent, though he points out that the majority of adolescents with broken homes don’t exhibit delinquent behavior.”
In the aftermath of loneliness following a divorce, some people try to fill the void by immediately seeking a new partner, which sometimes leads to repeated, rapid-fire relationships. Adults often rationalize this behavior by telling themselves that “the kids need another man/woman around the house.” But repeated and frequent partnering might not be the best way to help your kids survive the blowback of your divorce. In fact, it might actually do more damage.
Yes, your kids need stability, but stability doesn’t automatically mean a 2-parent household, or even a semblance thereof. Every time a significant adult figure enters or leaves the living situation, it is a huge adjustment for the children. Forcing them to navigate that adjustment over and over again, especially when they, too, are dealing with the pain of the divorce, can amplify their pain like salt on a wound, making it that much harder for them to bounce back.
But what about your needs?
Of course, no one expects you to remain single for the rest of your life, nor should you do so simply “for the sake of the children.” You do need to take care of your own needs, and in time that may include a new partner. That being said, I’d suggest that frequent, repeated partners might not be the best way to take care of yourself, either. Divorce creates a wound on the inside, and it might be awhile before you feel whole again. Taking some time to heal might go against your immediate instincts, but in the long run, you’re more likely to thrive in a future long-term relationship if you do so. You’ll be happier, more stable. And that’s the kind of stability you and your children both need in order to move forward.
If you or someone you know is in need of trusted legal representation or thinking about taking steps towards a new beginning, my team and I are ready and well qualified to represent you. Call the Law Offices of Silky Sahnan today at 888-228-1098 to schedule a confidential consultation.