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Your Relationship with Your Child's Other Parent Matters Whether You Are Married or Divorced


Studies show that divorce, domestic violence, drug abuse, poverty conditions, and poor home learning environments have negative impacts on child development.

This latest study focusing on the home life’s effect on early literacy skills for children, published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, shows that marital discord influences how children attain literacy as well. The way that adults interact with one another and with the children themselves makes a difference in predicting children’s educational achievement.

“Results from this study provide evidence for the myriad ways that the family context supports or inhibits children’s early literacy skill development,” the researchers wrote. “Children in homes with greater levels of positive emotional expressiveness experience more home learning activities and had better emergent literacy skills, an important predictor of future reading abilities. This suggests that providing familial supports could prove beneficial for children’s academic development as well.”

The researchers took special note of the importance of fathers on the development of a child’s literacy. Mothers continue to be the primary caregivers, but the fathers’ role in family life has dramatically changed over the past half-century. As they become increasingly more involved in the lives of their children, the researchers found that not including them in family interventions and research can lead to significant consequences. In fact, this study found that relative to mothers, the fathers’ perception of marital satisfaction is a strong indicator of a family’s emotional environment.

Along with the focus on fathers, the researchers took note that many studies that focus on similar topics to this one tend to focus on the children of divorced parents. However, they posit that the affects that divorce can have on a child begin to occur before any legal questions come into play.

“This is significant given findings which suggest that even prior to divorce, children from families that subsequently dissolve perform worse academically than their peers whose parents remain,” the researchers wrote. “In addition, in community samples with relatively low levels of marital distress, child maladjustment and academic development has been linked to conflict in the marital relationship.”

One issue with studying the effects of marital distress on children is that it’s far more difficult for a researcher to find subjects who fit that criteria. It’s far more straightforward to identify families affected by divorce – there’s a paper trail, and legal documentation that divorce occurred. However, it stands to reason that if these negative effects affect children before divorce papers are even filed, then it’s important to keep the results of these studies in mind when handling ongoing divorce cases.

One case in particular, the National Child Development Study that followed the lives of 9,000 children born in 1958 to see the effects of childhood traumas found that children whose parents divorced were more likely to use drugs, get pregnant, and drop out of school. The impact on the employment prospects of children whose parents divorced before the child turned 16 continued all the way through their retirement age. These results are important for anyone who works with children and/or divorcing parents, especially attorneys whose job it is to finalize that divorce.

At The Harris Law Firm, our Colorado divorce lawyers have spent decades working with families and individuals in order to help them successfully navigate the divorce process and secure the legal outcome they need to move on with their lives. No matter where you are in your own divorce, whether you’re far along and need to hire new representation or if you’re just starting out, our team is ready and prepared to help. Call us at (303) 622-5502 today to discuss your situation over the phone, or fill out our online form to provide us with the details of your case and set up a private consultation with one of our experienced divorce attorneys.

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