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There is no good divorce, for children

Divorces are messy. Image: Quinn Anya/Foter/CC by SA

Divorces are messy. Image: Quinn Anya/Foter/CC by SA

A study led by Indiana University’s Dr. Jonathon Beckmeyer has concluded there is no such thing as a good divorce when looking at its impact on children.

The study disagrees with a widely held view that divorces where the parents have a friendly relationship are less damaging on children than those where the parents are in conflict. Studies have shown that divorce can have a negative impact on children leading to increased rates of drug use, behavioral problems at home and school and increased problems with depression and anxiety.

The study published in Family Relations, an academic journal, looked at the impact of divorce/separation on the children of 270 parents who divorced or separated between 1998 and 2004. Of the families studied, 31% classified the relationship with their ex as “co-operative,” 24% described it as “conflictual” and the rest (45%) described it as somewhere in the middle.

The average age of the children at time of divorce was eight.

The study then tracked the children and noted, as earlier studies had shown, that the children of these divorced parents were more likely to have behavioral problems and were also more likely to suffer psychological problems.

But the study also discovered that all the children were equally affected. It did not matter if their parents had a cordial relationship after the divorce or a conflicted one.

The divorce itself was the problem, not the relationship between the parents after the divorce. Meanwhile, according to the Daily Mail, the British government recently put out a guide for divorcing parents that states:

“It’s not the separation itself that cause harm to children, it’s the level of conflict that they see or hear between parents. This is universally recognized as being very harmful.”

The Bible on the other hand is very clear: God hates divorce.

For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and him who covers his garment with wrong [literally violence],” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” (Malachi 2:16 NASV)

When God says He hates divorce, I believe in part He was referring to the impact it has on the children, who are specifically mentioned in the previous verse (v 15). God further describes divorce as an act of violence and treachery. It is the divorce itself that causes the damage.

I realize situations arise where divorce can’t be avoided. One may want divorce, when the other doesn’t or lives could be endangered. In these situations divorce may be inevitable. However, I believe prayer and faith can limit the damage divorce has on children. In some situations, God says He will step in and be a “father of the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5 NASV).

Married couples should not rush in to divorce. In a recent post, I discussed a recent survey that revealed over 50% of the people who divorced later regretted their decision.


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