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Study: Kids much more affected by divorce than parents realize

People all across Minnesota may be glad to put 2013 behind them and look forward to making a fresh start. And with the New Year often comes a list of resolutions that we hope to achieve. One item that parents may want to consider is resolving to communicate better with their children. This can be especially important for parents who are adjusting to life after a recent divorce.

The reason parents may want to add this to their list of resolutions is that according to a recent survey, parents think children are coping with a split better than they actually are. In fact, children are experiencing some very difficult, and in some cases destructive, emotions in the wake of their parents' divorce and may be in critical need of some support and attention. 

The survey was conducted by a parenting website in the U.K. and was designed to see if parents understood what their children were experiencing after a divorce. The results were troubling, as many of the children are not nearly as well-adjusted as their parents believe they are. 

According to the survey, 77 percent of parents responded that their children were just fine after a divorce and they had little reason to suspect that the child was struggling. Parents were largely unaware that children may be blaming themselves or coping with the divorce by engaging in destructive behaviors. But the children's responses were much different.

  • 73 percent of the children stated that they were unable to fully or honestly communicate their negative emotions about a divorce with their parents
  • Nearly 33 percent of the children reported being devastated by the split
  • 11 percent of the children responded that they have engaged in self-harm as a way to cope with their emotions, while 5 percent used alcohol and 6 percent have had suicidal thoughts

The pictures painted by the parents and children responding to the survey are quite different. While the adults believe or assume their children are handling a divorce, the truth is that the children are having much more difficulty understanding and coping with the situation. 

This year, divorced or divorcing parents may want to think about making their children a top priority. Keeping communication lines open, paying attention to worrisome behaviors and showing them love and support are just a few ways that parents can help children feel better as they navigate this difficult time. 

Source: The Huffington Post, "Survey Says Parents Are Unaware Of Divorce's Impact On Kids," Dec. 30, 2013

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