Post divorce, children fare better in stable families

May 8th, 2008 - 7:35 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, May 8 (IANS) Post-divorce children who lived in unstable families fared progressively worse as adults, compared to those who lived in stable families, a new study says. “For many children with divorced parents, particularly young ones, divorce does not mark the end of family structure changes - it marks the beginning,” said Yongmin Sun of Ohio State University and the study’s co-author.

“A stable family situation after divorce does not erase the negative effects of a divorce, but children in this situation fare much better than those who experience chronic instability.”

The study is based on data from a survey of thousands of US students from 8th grade in 1988 to when they were about 14 years old. They were surveyed again in 1990, 1992 and again in 2000 when they were about 26 years old.

Results showed that young adults who grew up in stable post-divorce families had similar chances of attending college and living in poverty compared to those from always-married families. But they fared less well on measures of the highest degree obtained, occupational prestige and income.

However, the young adults who lived in unstable family situations after their parents divorced did worse on all measures. In fact, they fared more than twice as poorly on most measures compared to their peers who had stable family situations.

For example, adults from stable post-divorce families earned about $1,800 a year less than similar adults from always-married families. But those adults whose family situations changed one or more times between ages 14 and 18 earned about $4,600 less.

Sun noted that some of the children in the unstable family group also underwent a custody change between ages 14 and 18, reports Sciencedaily.

There were also no significant differences between how boys and girls responded to family stability after a divorce, Sun said.

Why do children of divorce fare less well than those who grew up with parents who stayed married?

This study found that for those in stable post-divorce families, the difference in adult well-being was mostly due to a shortage of economic and social resources.

For children in unstable families, the decline in social and economic resources was only part of the reason for the shortfalls they experienced in adulthood.

“These children probably experience a lot of stress and disruption from sources that we didn’t measure in this study,” he said.

These findings provide a clear message about how parents who are divorcing can best help their children, Sun said. The study appeared in a recent issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family.

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