I won’t argue that going through a divorce affects a child. Obviously, the change in structure and routine will have an impact on every member of the family. But divorce might not have the serious negative consequences that so many people used to believe. We’ve already learned that the education level of the parents is much more influential on a child’s development than the parents’ marriage status. Now, Jezebel is reporting that your parental style has a larger impact on the risks of your child binge drinking than divorce.
This isn’t to say that divorce had no impact. Children whose parents divorce before they turn five are more likely to engage in binge drinking. But a bigger factor in this study was how the parents reacted to the divorce and the type of parenting techniques that were employed by both sides. So what was the most effective parenting style for keeping your kids away from this dangerous practice? “Tough love,” says the research team. They describe the approach like this:
“Parents falling into this category tend to expect that their children will conform to household rules and boundaries but that these will be set and negotiated within a context that encourages autonomy in the children’s decision-making. Such parents have high standards but support their children warmly in adhering to them; in their enforcement of rules such parents are assertive without being aggressive.”
The best part about this set up? It lends itself well to separated parenting. If the adults can sit down with their child, lay out household rules and discipline that everyone can agree on, and then trust their children to operate within that boundary, parents will have it made. Sitting down and discussing discipline is necessary for families that don’t all reside under the same roof. So divorced parents shouldn’t look at this data as discouraging, they should take the information and utilize it to create a system that works for them.
In the end, report author Jamie Bartlett tells the Telegraph, “Divorce won’t make your child a drinker, but instability and stress around relationship breakdown takes its toll on parents and children.” What I take from this is that how you handle your divorce is a lot more important than the fact that it happened.
(Photo: CBS Baltimore)