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The effects of divorce on children

Thomas Leuthard - 85mm Street Photo
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Pixnio.com

Shalayne Smith Needham
Today we are going to discuss the effects of divorce particularly on children. While there may be some difficult transitions and a period of disorganization, most families stabilize after three years. Joining me to discuss ways parents can help their children during this time is Abril Bell, Step Family Education Coordinator with healthy relationships Utah at Utah State University. We appreciate your time today, thanks for being here.

Abril Bell
Thanks for having me.

Shalayne Smith Needham
First, tell us what are some of the effects divorce can have on children.

Abril Bell
You know, a lot of that depends on the child, the child's personality. So it really does vary. It also depends a lot on the circumstances of the divorce. So it depends a lot. But like you mentioned in your introduction, there is a period of disorganization. But most kids and families stabilized after three years.

Shalayne Smith Needham
What can parents do to help during this transition?

Abril Bell
Some of the things parents can do is one, protect kids from conflict. Try and take a lot of the emotion out of the situation and just put the kids as priority. Stay healthy as parents, a lot of the times we hear when we fly to put our own oxygen mask on first, that applies in this circumstance to keep as many routines as possible. So Tuesday nights were your movie nights, keep Tuesday nights, your movie nights, and find social supports for your children. You don't have to share details of what's going on. But if the teacher needs to know that there is something going on, it might be able to allow her to give a little more empathy towards the child and help support your child as they're going through this transition.

Shalayne Smith Needham
As we talk about how parents can help their children navigate this process sounds like there may be a silver lining.

Abril Bell
There are some positive effects for children that suffer through divorce. Some of those are maturity, they have increased in empathy for others. There's also less gender sex roles. So they see their mom mowing the lawn, they see dad doing the laundry. And so while it may be a difficult transition with time most children emerge as competent and adjusted individuals.

Shalayne Smith Needham
I'm sure there are many resources available, including a class through USU. As we wrap up, tell us a bit about it.

Abril Bell
This is a step family class that USU has been teaching. It's a seven week course it's free for any individuals that are in a step family. It's also great for somebody who is maybe a single parent or someone who is dating person that has children from a previous relationship.

Shalayne Smith Needham has worked at Utah Public Radio since 2000 as producer of Access Utah. She graduated from Utah State University in 1997 with a BA in Sociology, emphasis on Criminology. A Logan native, she grew up with an appreciation for the great outdoors and spends her free time photographing the Western landscape and its wildlife.