The daughter in Sunday’s the “Dear Daddy” story described the trauma of her father’s deserting their family as like being in a car wreck. That is the impact divorce typically has on children. It is devastating! For more than twenty‐five years, California psychologist Judith Wallerstein has tracked hundreds of children of divorce from childhood to adulthood. She’s found that the distress young children experience after a divorce remains with them throughout their lives, making it more difficult for them to cope with challenges. “Unlike the adult experience,” Wallerstein says, “the child’s suffering does not reach its peak at the breakup and then level off. The effect of the parents’ divorce is played and replayed throughout the first three decades of the children’s lives.” Harvard University psychiatrist Armand Nicholi says that the pain of divorce is worse for children five years later than at the time the family disintegrates. He also links interruption of parent‐child relationships with an escalation in psychiatric problems for children.
The next time the idea of divorce enters your thoughts, consider the consequences of such an act on the most vulnerable members of your family. Research shows that time doesn’t heal those wounds.
Just between us…
- Do you agree with the statements of these mental health professionals?
- If your parents divorced, what was your experience during and after the breakup?
- What would happen to our kids (or future children) if we divorced?
From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.
Material on divorce from “Children of Divorce Heal Slowly, Study Finds; Scholar’s Latest Evidence in Influential Series” by Barbara Vobejda (Washington Post, 3 June 1997), and presentation given by Dr. Armand Nicholi at the White House Conference on the State of the American Family, 3 May 1983. Available in the Congressional Record, Extension of Remarks, 3 May 1983.