Psicología y Bienestar

Does Parent’s divorce promote resilience in children?

Resilience is the ability to cope with stress and to be able to face challenging situations in a valuable way. The notion of resilience has two major implications linked to it. First, there must be a negative event or a threat present in order to develop resilience. Second, there must be an ability to overcome the threat and adapt to it.

Resilience is a trait related to everybody. It is usually developed after a traumatic experience, but there are also people who develop a higher sense of resilience without having had any trauma in the past. This difference when developing resilience could be due to inherited personality characteristics, or it could be learned in childhood and adolescence.

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It is important to differentiate between risk and resilience factors. Risks factors are a threat for children to have normal positive outcomes in life: they are circumstances that prompt children toward negative results. On the other hand, resilience is the ability of the children to do well despite adversity. Risk factors are the circumstances the child must endure, and resilience factors are the circumstances that help the child overcome the stressful situation. For example, a resilient factor is having a good parent-child relation or having a good economic situation. Both approaches are studied individually rather than interpersonally, since each person experiences resilience is in a different way. Divorce is not one, but a series of changes in the family structure and distribution. The children’s personal view of the situation is important. For example, children with more self-blame tend to have a more negative outcome. The process of adjusting to these changes is stressful for families, and children’s adjustment to divorce evolves slowly over time

Divorce has been studied exhaustively in order to measure its consequences for both parents and children. Because the establishment of the new situation is not in the child’s control, they undergo a great amount of stress and they even feel shocked by the new circumstances. Divorce is not a single event, but a series of changes in the child’s lives which need to be adjusted to. Parents play a crucial role in promoting child adjustment. They influence the child’s emotional development and adjustment, and they are responsible for most of the risk factor involved in divorce. Although they are influential in the child’s recovery, most of the factors are not in their control. The children’s adjustment is crucial in order to develop resilience, since the children need to have a stable emotional condition. Resilience definition process, which entails experiencing a stressful event and being able to overcome it, fits in divorce development. Children become, not only more experienced in life situations, but also more knowledgeable and mature.

Although there is not enough clear evidence that divorce promotes resilience, resilience is present in divorce. Divorce is a stressful event that is overcome by most of the children that must endure it. To overcome a stressful event, resilience must be developed, and once resilience is experienced, it is present throughout one’s lifetime.  Divorce fits in the resilience parameters: stressor and the ability to overcome it. Even though theoretical studies support the hypothesis that children become more resilient after undergoing divorce, there is no study that addresses this issue specifically. Further investigation must be carried out to see the resilience outcome from divorce.

Looking to the effect of divorce on children it can be concluded that divorce itself was not the cause of the outcomes, but that other mediating processes and factors, such as length of time since separation and the child’s age, were the factors affecting the child’s adjustment. The different life situations that children go through determine the long-term outcomes.

Parent attitude towards the new situation is decisive for the child’s emotional recovery. The emotional outcome has not to do with the divorce itself, but with the parental attitude and support and the child’s view and understanding of marriage. When parental destructiveness was eliminated children did not have negative emotional signs or academic withdrawal. Besides form the factors mentioned above, other features of divorce such as the economic situation, the psychological distress and the situation of the diminished parent must be taken into account when talking about family condition and child circumstances

Divorce produces stress, and stress produces negative outcomes in children attitudes and behavior. Nonetheless, although children seem to have poor outcomes, they are only temporary. The stress produced by divorce has negative outcomes at first due to risk factors; however, when resilience factors take place they help the children overcome stress. This process takes time, since the child needs to adapt to the new circumstances. For this reason, long-term effects are more positive than short-term ones. Child adjustment changes over time. Usually, there is a fluctuation in resilience and adjustment through time. However, children that go through stressful experiences continue to have a continuously positive adaptation to future events.

The children’s adjustment is crucial in order to develop resilience, since the children need to have a stable emotional condition. Resilience definition process, which entails experiencing a stressful event and being able to overcome it, fits in divorce development. Children become, not only more experienced in life situations, but also more knowledgeable and mature.

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