In 1998 Bryan Rodgers and Jan Pryor produced a summary for The Joseph Rowntree Foundation considering a vast body of research and drawing together some key findings that detrimentally affected educational outcomes in children. This included:
financial hardship can limit educational achievement;
family conflict before, during and after separation can contribute to behavioural problems;
parental ability to recover from distress of separation affects children's ability to adjust
multiple changes in family structure increase the probability of poor outcomes;
quality contact with the non-resident parent can improve outcomes.
It doesn't take a huge leap of the imagination to link this to a statement such as " divorce will damage your child's educational outcomes". Those child centred, loving parents going through divorce amongst you are no doubt feeling slightly sick at this point. However, lets dig a little deeper with this. What can we do to minimise or avoid this happening?
Financial Hardship - this is a lack of funds available to enable each child to be the best they can be in terms of support, opportunity to join in at school and to have extra-curriculum activities that build confidence, develop talents and build skills. Do these things necessarily need to stop because of family breakdown? Not necessarily, I might say. It may be that there simply are not enough funds and that is more difficult to solve, and cloth has to be cut accordingly however, it may be that if both parents focus on maintaining the key elements for children and take the financial hit themselves where possible it works out. These are personal choices, but income levels aside, if the priorities are shared then parents can affect this.
Family Conflict - it is so hard sometimes to see others when we are experiencing stress or trauma but when we do the children have a level of protection. That is easy to say but harder to do at times of course and it can be useful to work with a good mediation service such as Green Light Mediation if it is starting to get out of hand. ideally, do something before matters escalate too much as prevention is better than cure as the saying goes.
Parental ability to recover from stress - There are two sides to this coin. Firstly, self care. Family breakdown is tough, really tough so if you need some professional support, don't be too proud to seek it. If your leg was broken you wouldn't ignore it would you? Self awareness is not a sign of weakness!
Multiple changes in family structure - this is a big topic. Too big for a paragraph but if you are interested to find out a little more read the article about introducing a new partner from a previous post on our blog. This may not be a good time to have a new lodger if you don't have to.
Quality contact with the non resident parent - There are two points in this phrase to consider, firstly a lack of this will hurt your child so if in your heart that with holding contact is about your anger, not the parenting of your child; reconsider. The second is "quality", it needs to be managed well, a priority and with care so neither parent is without a responsibility here.
To conclude, based on a logical consideration of the above, children can and do thrive academically despite family breakdown if the parents work together to minimise the risks.