Often parents will stay together until their children are grown and go off to college. And while these parents have good intentions, it turns out that putting off a divorce to try and spare the children can actually end up affecting the kids more in the end.
One psychology professor said he hears from parents who want to delay a divorce until their kids are in college. Their thoughts are that this would make it easier for the grown children since they will be out of the house. However, in all reality, it turns out that these college students could then end up feeling bad that their parents stuck it out just for them. They sometimes also end up feeling like before college they were living a lie — thinking their parents were happily married when they were not.
How college students react and cope with their parents divorce was also the topic of one study. From there it was found that what really matters is the ways in which the divorce resolution was reached. For example, those students of parents who reached a divorce in a peaceful manner ended up not having the same health issues as those students whose parents never actually just finalized their divorce.
The same study also found that those students who continued to talk with their father after a divorce often coped better than those with no or little contact.
In the end, the message is that if you are a parent who is considering divorce; don’t just stick it out for the sake of the children, for you may actually be doing more worse than good. Instead, if you and your spouse no longer want to be married, start the divorce process and just remain open and honest.
And, if this happens to just come at a time when your children are already in college, know that there is help and advice for your children to be able to cope with the divorce in a healthy way. Additionally, in the end it’s typically the ways in which the parents handle their emotions — not necessarily the divorce — that will have the biggest impact on their children.
Source: The Crimson White, “Students respond to divorce in a number of ways,” Elisabeth Garcia, Oct. 17, 2011