Written on August 12, 2008 by David C. Sarnacki
The Wall Street Journal uses the divorce of Robin Williams and his wife, Marcia Garces Williams, to remind us of the effects of divorce on children.
Stephanie Coontz writes (excerpt):
But a growing body of evidence suggests that normalizing divorce and surrounding it with expectations of cooperative behavior is far better for everyone than the two extremes of trying to prevent people from divorcing at all or encouraging them to “win” or prove fault in a divorce dispute. Especially when children are involved.
Poor impulse control, antisocial behavior, disengaged parenting, contemptuous behavior toward a partner, and untreated physical or mental problems all make couples more likely to divorce. But each factor also raises the likelihood of maladjustment in the children even if the parents stay wed. Sometimes divorce, however painful, is the best outcome for a poorly functioning family.
And it’s not just the financial toll [averaging less than $7,000 for divorce mediation, less than $20,000 for a collaborative divorce, nearly $27,000 for a lawyer-negotiated divorce, and about $78,000 for a fully litigated divorce]. When a parent maximizes his or her emotional position by undermining a child’s respect for the other parent, this “victory” carries long-term costs. Researcher Paul Amato notes that children who report being put in the middle of their parents’ problems are less likely to be close to either parent as they age.