Students who have divorced parents can still show academic success

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Students who have divorced parents can still show academic success

by Lauryn Porter, Staff Writer

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The divorce rate is skyrocketing in America, and millions of children’s lives are being changed because of it.

Divorce creates a challenging new family circumstance for children to undergo. It affects every child differently while some may take the divorce well, others may fall down the wrong path.

Children of divorced families have to adjust to going back and forth between two different households and have to handle the daily absence of one parent while living with the other. These problematic circumstances create a difficult, new family situation for children.

Art it Out Therapy Center is a therapy center with two centers located in Marietta and Atlanta Georgia. Art it Out’s mission is to provide the highest quality of therapy services to children,teens, adults, and families. Art it Out guides families through divorce through individual therapy and group therapy. One of their talented therapists, Erin Holcomb is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a National Certified Counselor (NCC).  Holcomb has dedicated her career to helping children overcome different adversities. She has worked in the school system and has helped elementary aged children meet their academic goals.

“For children to do well in school their basic needs of safety and security need to be met.” Holcomb said.“When they [children] experience divorce, they may question this because so much is changing in their life.  The anxiety and depression related to the divorce, could also affect sleep and focus thus making school a challenge.”

Children who come from divorced families are more likely to experience more behavioral problems, suffering grades,and are less likely to graduate from high school or college.

Kent State University conducted the “Impact of Divorce Project” on elementary students. They used a national sample study of 699 of elementary level kids and revealed that children from divorced homes performed worse in reading, spelling, and math and were more susceptible to grade retention. Children who experience divorce quickly begin performing worse academically than their peers in healthy two parent families

The dramatic difference in children who live in divorced homes’ performance in school and students who live in intact two parent family homes comes from the differences in family structure.

A good family structure impacts how well a student performs in school. Teens who come from two parent households tend to have grade point averages (GPA) 11 percent higher than those from divorced families.

Not all children of divorce are negatively affected, however. Senior Bianca Crichlow is a prime example. Her parents divorced during her junior year of high school and she completed her junior year with great grades and is graduating early in December. She is also currently enrolled in  early college courses at Chattahoochee Technical College.

“My parents divorce did not really affect me negatively,” Crichlow said.  She believes the reason behind her success was her parents still working together, “I still had a good support system at home and I think that made a huge difference in how well I continued performing in school because my parents were still there for me.”

Maintaining a healthy co-parenting relationship between the divorced parents is vital to the students success.

Holcomb says, “A child might try to split one parent against the other, but if parents are co-parenting they will be more likely to be on the same pages. Also, parents that determine some sort of divorce rules, such as no fighting in front of the child(ren), not using the child(ren) as a go between, not using the child(ren) to hurt the other parent.”

McEachern counselor Ayesha Fawzi believes family structure plays an important role in a students performance in school.

Fawzi said, “Due to change yes a child’s academic performance can fall but just because a student is dealing with a divorce does not mean they will be unsuccessful,” She said, “To guide a student through a divorce to prevent a negative performance in school ensure the student has a support system at home and a safe space to talk about what is going on and how it impacts them.”

Holcomb believes, “Parents could provide consistency between homes.  The rules at each home should be the same, including but not limited to bedtime and homework/study policy. This will help the child(ren) know what to expect and consistency is great for kids“

Another prominent tool students dealing with divorce can utilize is therapy. Holcomb says, “Individual therapy should provide the child(ren) a place to process the changes, the emotions they are experiencing, and get validation from the therapist.  Group therapy may also be beneficial so that the child(ren) understand they aren’t alone as well as the other benefits of individual therapy.”

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