Myths and Reality for Divorce: Little Children, Big Challenges

Author: Thomas Babalis

People say that it is better for a child to have two happy separated parents rather than a united misery in the house.

Partly this is true. But what really is the effect of divorce on preschool children and especially on their behavior and school performance?

The single-parent family or lone-parent family is a new family pattern that emerged from the refusal of the marital relationship rather than the parental, and demonstrates the variety in the structure and form of the family without degrading its value. Children of single-parent families that emerged after the divorce of parents are being ranked in high risk groups not only as far as the risk of educational failure is concerned, but also regarding the possibility of social progress and acquisition of emotional wellbeing and mental resilience, i.e. psychosocial adjustment.

In Thomas Babalis’ research empirical study from the Department of Primary Education at National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece) in Psychology, Vol. 1 by Scientific Research Publishing, 118 kindergarten teachers provided information on the school performance and the behavior problems of 314 preschool students. His team compared the results of children from nuclear and single-parent families and found a great effect of divorce on a) behavioral problems and b) poor school performance. “Divorce children are more isolated, shy and melancholic and get sick or angry when faced with a difficult problem”, state the teachers. “They find it more difficult to follow the instructions in the lesson, they have more difficulties in learning, they are often abstract and they don’t like school”, compared to children from nuclear families. Moreover, “they quarrel often, they behave dangerously and they show immature or inappropriate behavior”. As far as their school performance is concerned, they are characterized by their teachers at a greater rate as “average” students.

Given the importance of the proper cognitive, social and emotional development of children, schools ought to show understanding and sensitivity and through regular and respectful communication with parents provide support to families in need, bearing always in mind that each family is unique.

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