Good Divorce?

From the January 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

A new study shows how children of divorce are torn between two worlds.

Is there such a thing as a “good divorce”? Many divorcing parents console themselves with the idea that emotional and other damage to their children caused by divorce may be minimized if the couple maintains a good relationship after separation and continues to support the children. A recently released study, however, reveals that even a “good divorce” causes psychological trauma to children, with effects that last into adulthood.

In the book Between Two Worlds: The Inner Lives of Children of Divorce, Elizabeth Marquardt, who spent three years surveying 1,500 young adults from both divorced and intact families and interviewing 71 of them at length, estimated that a quarter of adults aged 18 to 35 have grown up in divorced families. Her research suggests that even children of somewhat unhappy, low-conflict marriages fare better than children of divorce.

According to the study, even after a “good” divorce, 52 percent of respondents stated that family life was stressful, compared to 35 percent from unhappy, but low-conflict marriages—and only 6 percent from happy marriages (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 21,2005). Forty-four percent of children of divorce said, “I was alone a lot as a child” compared to only 14 percent of those living in intact families. The study found that children of divorce feel less protected, less emotionally secure and are less likely to go to their parents for comfort.

Children face many obstacles as they try to juggle their lives with two parents who live by different standards, rules, morals and ethics. According to the study, children of divorce are twice as likely to feel like a different person with each of their parents while growing up. Instead of having only one home, they must juggle between two different homes and are often left to themselves to come up with their own standards and morals. This causes much stress and emotional anxiety in the children, the study revealed.

These results may sound startling to some, but that is only because so many “experts” claim that the opposite of Marquardt’s study is true. These same sociologists, who claim parents and children are better off after divorce, were the ones who coined the term “good divorce” in the first place. But there is no such thing as a “good divorce.” Marquardt’s study accurately shows that children suffer the consequences of a divorce no matter how it is managed.

Children need the strength and support of a father and mother united in a tight-knit family. The Bible clearly shows that God did not intend for married couples to divorce. He knows how stressful divorce is on children. God pays special attention to the needy and is called a father to the fatherless. For more information on the importance of family, please request our booklet Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete?