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Divorce may be inevitable, but children with resilient personalities do well

Published: Saturday, Aug. 20 2011 8:11 p.m. MDT

Couples with marital problems often try to work things out, for the sake of the kids, but a recent Swiss study found the consideration for the children only delays the inevitable, according to SwissInfo.

"Parents are often too busy in the initial years, when the children are still dependent," said Fabienne Stettler, a sociologist at Neuchatel University, according to SwissInfo. "When (the children) start school, (parents) are suddenly relieved of a certain amount of pressure."

During this time of pressure is when a high number of divorces happen, when the youngest child is between three and five.

When the oldest turns 20 is another time of pressure, and divorce rates rise again.

Parents are often hesitant to divorce, because they worry about the effect it will have on their children. And according to the Huffington Post, new research says divorce may not be as devastating to children as previously thought, especially children with resilient personalities.

The article stresses the importance of parental support during the first three years after divorce, and for the children who receive such support, they are caught up to their peers, emotionally, by the third year.

In a followup article, the Huffington Post outlined a few key characteristics of someone with a resilient personality.

These characteristics included: believing that life has meaning, understanding that crisis is a normal part of life and that while we create our luck, crises can also create opportunities for us. There is also a need for the individual to understand their ability to survive the situation, and that they have a strong support system to lean on.

When children exhibit these behaviors they are more able to cope with divorce, and when parents are also resilient and maintain a positive outlook on life, it will contribute to their child's ability to overcome the trauma of divorce, according to the Huffington Post.

While resilient children fair better, according to an article about the Longevity Project from Psychology Today, for some children, divorce can be more devastating than the death of a parent.

In an effort to reduce the devastating affect, Psychology Today points out, one of the most important parts in raising more resilient children is to build a supportive environment around them. While divorce separates a family, parents can continue to build a strong support system around their children, to ensure more resilient children and diminish the effects of divorce.

Though Stettler reminds, the main cause of divorce is not the children, there are many other factors that play into divorce, according to the DailyMail's report on a marital longevity research study.

When parents stay together for the sake of the children, remaining in a miserable marriage, they teach their children that a miserable marriage is normal, said The Healthy Divorce blog.

Many couples believe a bad marriage is better than no marriage, reported The Huffington Post. It reports this opinion is likely due to a study by Judith Wallerstein, which showed "that kids don't notice that their parents are unhappy in a marriage."

However, on the other hand, Phil and Carolyn Cowan, UC Berkeley researchers found that "studies of two-parent families have consistently found that when a couple's relationship is characterized by unresolved conflict and unhappiness, their children tend to have more acting out aggressive behavior problems, more shy withdrawn behavior, and few social and academic skills," according to the Post.

EMAIL: awhatcott@desnews.com

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