Study Examines the Influence of Parental Divorce, Separation on School Readiness

  • Researchers examined the influence of parental divorce or separation on school readiness and how it affects the quality of a child's relationship with a parent.
  • The results showed that the psychological and cognitive test scores were affected more by temporary separation, due to the number of transitional periods involved.
  • If a parent is worried that their child may be facing psychological or cognitive issues, due to a parental divorce or separation, it is important to consult with a professional.

As a parent, you tell your children that they have one job: school. You tell them to study, do their homework, and do their best in school. You tell them to make sure to pay attention and to always try theirbest.

This type of task can be difficult when you and your spouse are going through marital woes, in the process of a divorce, or have just completed the divorce process. Your children may be coming to grips with the idea that their parents are no longer living under the same roof and no longer are together.

This can make them unable to focus on the “job” assigned to them in the classroom. Children of divorce can face a variety of academic issues fresh off of the cusp of the event. They can find themselves distracted by the end of their parents’ marriage and can be struggling for answers.

For younger children, a parental divorce can even affect a child’s readiness to enter school for the first time, as well as their relationship with their parents.

The study

A study published by the Munich Personal Research Papers in Economics Archive examined the influence of parental divorce, separation, and parental relationship quality on a child’s readiness to begin school and start their academic career.

The study incorporated the first three waves of the Millennium Cohort Study, a research project following the lives of approximately 19,000 children born in the United Kingdom. They looked into how a parental divorce, a separation, and the quality of a parent-child relationship can affect cognitive abilities and psychological dimensions of children at age five.

The variables of the study were broken down in a variety of ways. They identified children whose parents were together, either married or cohabiting, until they were at least nine months old, but who divorced when they were between 9 months old and age 5, children who experienced parental separation for at least a year, between the ages of 9 months old and age 5, and children whose parents remained in either stable or cohabitating unions from birth to age 5.

The results

The researchers looked to explain the connection between a family disturbance, like a divorce or separation, and the quality of a parent-child relationship. The results found that the parental relationship quality explains all or a substantial part of the psychological outcomes of the divorce effect.

Cognitive and psychological test scores also were examined. The researchers found that since family economic conditions are more important for cognitive than for psychological outcomes, family financial circumstances after a divorce may play a more important role in explaining the effect of divorce on test scores than a child’s relationship quality with a parent before a divorce.

Parents who experienced temporary periods of separation while their child was age 5 or younger, are found to be more similar in sociodemographic characteristics and parental relationship quality to divorced families than those from stable or cohabitating unions.

Researchers found that parental separation at that age had a significant effect on hyperactivity issues and general conduct. However, children were more effected, as a family disturbance, by a temporary separation than a divorce. The amount of transitions to and from the same partner creates enough disturbance in a child’s life at a young age that they become more at risk for cognitive and psychological issues.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Academic, medical, and financial ramifications

While a child may experience academic issues adjusting to the new environment that school can provide, they are not always linked to a child going through a parental divorce or separation at a young age.

It becomes more about the after-effect of divorce. If Mom or Dad suddenly do not have the funds to continue a specific aspect of a routine, it can adversely affect a child. They also may be forced to spend more in child care, which can create additional financial issues that would need to be resolved in court through child support.

In order to determine whether or not your child has any types of issues that may harm their academic future, a variety of tests can be done, in order determine the psychological or cognitive issue they may be facing.

In the midst of divorce

This can be challenging in the midst of a divorce. Many co-parents can find themselves disagreeing about what to do in these types of circumstances, forcing them to consult with their custody agreement and parenting plan. If the parents are awarded joint legal custody, they must share the decision-making responsibilities. However, they may split responsibilities between educational and medical.

Whereas, physical custody refers to the parent whose home is considered the child’s primary residence. They are often given the final decision on these types of issues.

If you, as a parent, feel that something may be wrong in the way your co-parent is going about testing, if you are in need of adjusting your child support, or looking to change your custodial situation, it is important that you contact your family law attorney and go through the proper legal channels.

Your child’s future may rely on the intervention of the courts, and it is your responsibility to see to that they are given the opportunity to succeed no matter what.

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