How Long is Long Enough?
Depending on whose research you read, you will find a different time period for how long the negative impacts of divorce last for children.
In her 25-year study on children of divorce, Judith Wallerstein found that there was really no end to the negative impacts of divorce on children. They last a lifetime. Mavis Hetherington, another prominent divorce researcher, found that the negative impacts of divorce last about two years and then children of divorce look pretty much the same as children from intact families.
So, the question for me is this: does it really matter if the impact of divorce is two years or a lifetime? Well, on the one hand, yes. A lifetime is much longer than two years. On the other hand, no. Two years is a long time to suffer! My point is this: Isn’t two years long enough to do whatever we can to limit the negative impacts of divorce on children? Should we only act to limit these impacts if the impacts last a lifetime? Let me put it this way: Your child comes home from school crying and after some investigation, you find out that he/she was bullied in the playground. Are you going to think to yourself, “Hmm, I wonder if the impact of this incident on my child is going to last two weeks or two years”? No! You are going to think, “what can I do NOW to limit the impact of this bullying incident on my child?”
The same is true for divorce. You are not going to equivocate over whether the impact of divorce is going to last two years or a lifetime, you are going to say “Holy Cow! I want to limit the negative impact of divorce on my children NOW. What can I do NOW to make this happen? My concern is that we do everything we possibly can to limit the negative impacts of divorce on children whether these impacts last two weeks, two months, two years or a lifetime.
I would love to hear whether you believe that divorce negatively impacts children and, if so, whether you believe as I do that there is so much that we can do to limit or prevent these potential impacts.