The word divorce has gone from taboo to mainstream, all in our lifetime. Experts debate the exact divorce rate in the U.S., but they agree that the number of marriages ending in divorce today falls in the range of 35 percent to potentially higher than 50 percent. The effect on the adults involved is immense, but the toll it takes on their children is the real heartbreaker.
Findings of a recent study completed in the U.K. show that the difference in parents’ opinions versus those of their children is remarkable, and parents underestimated the effect of their divorce on their kids across the board. You may not believe what some of the numbers revealed.
First, over 75 percent of parents who were polled stated that their kids had “coped well” with the divorce. Meanwhile, just 18 percent of the kids echoed that sentiment. Sadly, 20 percent of these children, ages 8-18 felt they couldn’t talk to their parents about their feelings because their moms and dads were “too wrapped up in themselves.” In a trend that sounds like role reversal, almost 40 percent said that they hid their true feelings from their parents because they didn’t want to upset them.
The emotional implications of divorce on the kids who are involved has long been documented both in the U.S. and around the world. Perhaps what’s most alarming is the extremes to which the surveyed children have gone in response to their parents’ divorces. About 5 percent of the children had turned to alcohol, while one in nine of the children intentionally wounded themselves. Six percent had considered suicide, and two percent had even attempted it.
So what can we take away from the information uncovered in this study? Divorce is an inevitable part of many lives, and the outcome of two parents separating is often better than if they had stayed together in an unhappy marriage and home. However, the adults going through this difficult process need to stop thinking about themselves so much. If it’s hard on you, imagine how it feels to your kids. Quit posting updates on Facebook, enough with the selfies, and no more planning a “newly single celebration” with your friends (yes, apparently that’s a growing trend). Whether you and your partner are in a happy marriage or one that’s on the brink of divorce, your kids need to know that you love them and that they can trust and share their feelings with you.