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Families are more likely to flourish in environments where marriage is strong and where families have access to the material, social and psychological resources they need.
The studies compared children of married parents with those who experienced divorce at different ages.
The investigators followed these kids into later childhood, adolescence or the teenage years, assessing their academic achievement, emotional and behavior problems, delinquency, self-concept and social relationships.
Children and adolescents who experience parental divorce, however, frequently experience great emotional distress during the separation and afterward.
Recent research that uses numerous designs to test the underlying causal mechanisms suggests that the increased risk for impairing problems is not due solely to selection factors (risks that increase both parental separation and problems in the offspring).
Research studies have used numerous designs to test the causal and selection factors.
For example, genetically-informed approaches, Recent research has focused on identifying the family processes that specifically account for (or mediate) the association between parental divorce and offspring impairment.
Debates about how to improve the lives of children frequently propose initiatives that focus either on (a) cultural and legal policies to strengthen marriage or (b) programs that focus on economic, social and psychological resources to improve the lives of families. Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development [online].
A strict dichotomy, however, fails to recognize that family structure, family processes and contextual factors influence and interact with each other.
A recent meta-analysis, a study that combines numerous studies on a topic, also has found that the differences between offspring who have and who have not experienced parental divorce have increased since the 1980s.
There are two main and competing explanations for the increase in problems seen among children of divorce.