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How Parents Can Help Children Cope With Separation/Divorce

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Personal Author: 
Bailey, Sandra J.
Fact Sheet
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Each year, millions of children around the globe face family disruption, and in many countries, divorce rates are rising. Children experience divorce deeply and personally, and the potential for negative short- and long-term consequences is considerably higher for children whose parents divorce than for those from non-divorced families. While parental divorce poses significant risks for children that warrant concern, research shows that these outcomes are not the same for all children, nor are they inevitable. There are many factors that can reduce risks and promote children’s resilience.

The three biggest factors that impact children’s well-being during and after their parents’ separation or divorce are potentially within parents’ control: the degree and duration of hostile conflict, the quality of parenting provided over time, and the quality of the parent-child relationship. Underlying these, of course, are parents’ own well-being and ability to function effectively. By learning how to manage their conflict, parent effectively, and nurture warm and loving relationships with their children, parents can have a powerful, positive effect on their children, even as they undergo multiple difficult changes in their own lives.

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