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Children from higher-income families struggle most with divorce

We all know that divorce can have a negative effect on children, but only recently have researchers started to uncover more specific details on how children of different ages and socioeconomic levels are affected.

For example, a new study suggests that younger children who come from higher-earning households are more likely to develop behavioral problems following their parents’ divorce than older children and children who come from lower-earning households. 

The study, which was published Sept. 10 in the journal “Child Development,” involved analyzing data on close to 4,000 children between the ages of 3 and 12.

The leader of the study, who is an assistant professor of psychology at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., said young children from higher-earning homes appeared to be more affected by changes in family structures both for better and for worse.

While children from higher-earning homes who were under the age of 5 were more likely to encounter behavioral issues like aggression or defiance, these children were also more likely to improve their conduct after moving from a single-parent family to a stepparent family.

On the other hand, children from lower-earning homes did not appear to develop the same behavioral problems after their parents separated. The researchers suspected that this could be because children in poorer homes may not experience the same change in their living conditions that children from higher-earning families do.

Additionally, the researchers concluded that single-parent and blended families are more common among lower-income families so the change might be accepted as normal by the children.

Of course, these findings don’t mean that every young child from a higher-income family will struggle with behavioral problems after a divorce while children from lower-earning families will never struggle with behavioral issues after a divorce.

Instead, it’s important to remember that each child will have his or her own struggles, coping methods and needs when coming to terms with the changing family structure.

WSFA.com, “Parents’ divorce may hit higher-income kids harder,” Sept. 10, 2014