Written by: Jennifer Dennis
Article source: Supplied

Around 45% of marriages in the U.S. end up in divorce, with arguably the most important consequences bearing on children whose families have been disrupted. Those who attend church regularly marry at higher rates and divorce at lower rates, with many leaning on their faith to get them through challenging times in their marriage. If you are undergoing difficulties in your own marriage and you have children, both prayer and counselling can be considered as a first-step approach if your relationship is salvageable.

Surprising findings about the effects of divorce
Various studies have shown that young children, particularly boys, are negatively affected by divorce, while teens are affected more by parental discord than by the divorce itself. Children in single-parent families are slightly disadvantaged in terms of school performance and research on antisocial behavior shows that teens living in mother-only households are more prone to commit conflictive acts (Demo and Acock, 1998). A recent study published by researchers at Baylor University, meanwhile, has found that adults who were kids when their parents split up have lower levels of ‘love hormones’.

The Family that Prays Together Stays Together
Research conducted at Harvard’s School of Public Health has shown that regularly attending church services together reduces the likelihood of divorce by 47%. This holds true for white, Asian, Latino, and black couples. Prayer and church attendance can help couples take important steps to stay united, as they discover and respect the deep spiritual significance of marriage. Attending church service can also help couples feel like they are part of a supportive community. In tough times, they have others to lean on, talk to, and receive advice from.

Divorce and Attachment
The Baylor University study found that these adults had lower levels of oxytocin than children whose parents remained married. This lower level, scientists said, could play a role in difficulties with forming attachments when children are older. Oxytocin is known to be important for social behavior and emotional attachments early in life. This hormone is also linked to anxiety, attachment, and parenting. It is highly sensitive to stressful events that occur early in life. It is known, for instance, that children who experience parental divorce or the death of a parent can have a higher risk of depression and anxiety when they are teens or adults. Difficult childhood experiences are additionally linked to poorer parenting in adulthood.

The Challenges Faced by Children and Teens during Divorce
There are many stressors that children and adolescents can face when their parents’ marriage or relationship breaks down. Parents can have differences regarding child custody, for instance. Although in the US as a whole, joint custody is granted, some parents seek to obtain full custody owing to financial, environmental, or emotional reasons. It is important for parents in this situation to seek legal advice but also to create meaningful relationships with their children and to commit fully to reducing tension with their spouse. Focusing on a solution that works best for the child is vital, as is avoiding arguments and bickering in front of children.

The Role of Counselling and Prayer
Couples who are undergoing conflicts but who want to save their marriage can try both therapeutic and faith-based approaches. Couples counselling can help couples who are struggling to work out if there is a way to save their marriage. In many cases, couples facing tension or stress can benefit from therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches them to use more fruitful conflict resolution strategies, among many other useful skills. Faith can also strengthen families as they go through the challenging process of deciding whether or not their marriage can be saved.

If you are currently undergoing a difficult separation or divorce, it is important to know the effects that the end of your marriage can have on your children. The Christian faith firmly supports the idea that marriages are forever. If you have tried counselling and faith-based approaches but have made the decision to divorce, try and make it as peaceful as possible for your children. Conflict, tension, and arguments can affect their security and sense of trust and make it harder for them to enjoy healthy relationships in the future.


Feature image: unsplash.com

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