Parents’ divorce hits kids’ math, social skills’

Updated: Jun 03, 2011, 16:02 PM IST

Washington: A new study has found that children of divorced parents struggle socially and academically than those whose mother and father stay together.

It also found that those kids are more prone to feelings of anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem and sadness.

“Children of divorce experience setbacks in math test scores and show problems with interpersonal skills and internalizing behaviour during the divorce period," said Hyun Sik Kim, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kim used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study describing more than 3,500 U.S. elementary school students who entered kindergarten in 1998.

The study, which also made subjects of parents while checking in periodically on the children, gave Kim the opportunity to track the families through divorce — as well as through periods before and after the divorce.

While the children fell behind their peers in math and certain psychological measures during the period that included the divorce, Kim was surprised to see those students showing no issues in the time period preceding the divorce.

The results add nuance to the long-held assumption that divorce is harmful to children all the way through the process.

"There is also some thinking that children are resilient and that they would learn how to cope with the situation at some point," said Kim.

To a certain extent, the detrimental effect of the divorce period fades, but not to the point that Kim would call it resiliency.

"After the divorce, students return to the same growth rate as their counterparts," he says. "But they remain behind their peers from intact families."

"The results here support the idea that not all divorces are plagued by harmful parental conflict in the pre-divorce period," Kim says.

The study is published in the June issue of American Sociological Review.

ANI