WASHINGTON, DC, May 24, 2011 Children whose parents get divorced generally don't experience detrimental setbacks in the pre-divorce period, but often fall behind their peersand don't catch upwhen it comes to math and interpersonal social skills after their parents begin the divorce process, according to a new study.
In addition, the study, which appears in the June issue of the American Sociological Review, finds that children of divorce are more likely to struggle with anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, and sadness. This increase in "internalizing problem behaviors" also begins during the divorce process and does not dissipate.
"People tend to think that couples go through intense marital conflict before they decide to divorce," said study author Hyun Sik Kim, a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "My original prediction was that children of divorce would experience negative impacts even before formal divorce processes began. But, my study finds that this is not the case."
Instead, Kim finds that children begin experiencing developmental problems after their parents commence the divorce process, and these issues continue to plague them even after the divorce is finalized. Interestingly, these problems neither worsen nor improve following the divorce.
"This study reveals that these negative impacts do not worsen in the post-divorce stage, although there is no sign that children of divorce catch up with their counterparts either," Kim said.
Relying on nationally representative data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class 1998 to 1999, the study traces the development of 3,585 kids from the time they entered kindergarten in the fall of 1998 through fifth grade, and compares children of divorce with kids from intact families. A unique feature of the study is that it focuses on divorces that occur when children are between first and third grade, which en
|Contact: Daniel Fowler|
American Sociological Association