Divorced couples’ kids lag in math, social skills

June 2nd, 2011 - 6:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 2 (IANS) Children whose parents get divorced often fall behind their peers - and don’t catch up - when it comes to math and interpersonal social skills.

The study also finds that children of divorce are more likely to struggle with anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem, and sadness.

This increase in “internalizing problem behaviours” begins during the divorce process and does not dissipate, reports the journal American Sociological Review.

“People tend to think that couples go through intense marital conflict before they decide to divorce,” said study author Hyun Sik Kim, doctoral 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 begin. But, my study finds that this is not the case,” said Kim, according to a Wisconsin statement.

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.

It enables Kim to examine the effects of divorce during three separate stages: pre-divorce (kindergarten to first grade), during-divorce (first to third grade), and post-divorce (third to fifth grade).

According to Kim, there are many reasons why children whose parents are divorced or in the process of getting divorced experience developmental setbacks.

“Having one’s parents go through a divorce can be very unsettling for a child,” Kim said.

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