Are the kids alright?
Do children from divorced families really suffer so much?
“Children who live with their own two married parents enjoy better physical health, on average, than children in other family forms.”

Oh, for goodness sake.

This headline appeared in my Twitter feed this morning. Thanks, Twitter, for that little gem. I needed it on a Monday morning, about a month after my divorce has come through and just after spending a weekend away from my children.

The study was done by “16 of the top scholars on family life”. They also say (rather smugly, I think – the study has been published on a site called that my children probably won’t graduate from college or achieve high-status jobs and that my divorce doubles the odds that they’ll get divorced one day too.

Although I try to ignore studies like this, they still have the ability to stress me out. I experienced a similar period of panic and vacillation when I chose to work full time after I had my children. (I say “chose”, but in reality, we’d be living under a bridge if I didn’t.) Is it ok to work? Will my kids adapt? According to articles like this, no, it isn’t and no, they won’t:  “The children of mothers who return to work full time in the years before they start school have slower emotional development and score less well in reading and maths tests”, declare the authors.

I know, I know: you can find studies that support anything. A quick look on the internet reveals opposing findings: one of the positive effects of working is that working mothers are less likely to use an authoritarian style of discipline than their stay-at-home counterparts, says this article. And even divorce can be a positive thing, apparently: this article says that spending one-on-one quality time with your children can build a stronger bond between you than if you weren’t a single parent.

You try to make the best decisions for your family, but if you’re me, you end up second-guessing yourself almost every day. I chose to get divorced, which means I chose a broken home for my children. Is it the best option for them? Of course it isn’t. Will they be ok in the end? No one knows. Not even the authors of that smug study. Because my children are unique. They might now form part of the 32775 divorced families reported in South Africa in 1996, but they aren’t just a statistic. The way they react and adapt to this event is entirely up to them and the way my ex and I help them through it.

At the moment, they seem ok. They’ve been seen by the school psychologist, who declared them “well balanced” and “content” and who won’t be seeing them again unless they hit a wobbly.

So for the moment, I’ll try to ignore this latest study, because I need to focus on building a stable environment for my children. For my children’s sake, I need to try to let the future take care of itself.

How are your children coping with your divorce?

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