Four ways divorce can impact a child’s academic achievements

It’s natural for a parent to want the best for their child. And that usually involves doing well at school. Here are four ways divorce can impact a child’s academic achievements.

Divorce is difficult for everyone involved, especially if you have children. But while we naturally look for ways we can minimise any emotional damage by the fallout of a marriage ending, we don’t often consider the effects on their academic performance.

Studies show that children whose parents divorce have, on average, lower levels of educational attainment than children whose parents stay together. In this article we explore four ways divorce can impact a child’s academic achievements, and how you can help your child if you are going through divorce.

1) Lower academic aspirations

All parents hope their children will do well at school; that they will perform to the best of their abilities and enjoy their school years. And when life is moving along smoothly, you have more time and emotional energy to devote to ensuring things are going well with their studies.

You also have more time and headspace to talk about their hopes for their future, and encourage aspirations.

But when families break up, time and emotional energy can be in shorter supply, especially if both parents are juggling work and child care, and their own emotions.

At times like this, it’s easy to let things slide, especially if there are no glaring signs things are wrong. If your child is completing their school work and not getting into trouble, it’s one less worry to deal with right now.

And with your own future up in the air after the breakup of a marriage, the last thing you may feel like doing is speculating about what your child may want to do when they are older, and inspiring them to dream big dreams.

In fact, rather than inspire your child with hope and encourage them to work hard on their studies, they may be distracted by worries about their home life and their parents. They may worry what will happen to them – where they’ll end up living (and even if they’ll have to change school).

This worry can naturally affect their studies, and they may even need to explore these essay writers’ profiles to help them catch up and complete assignments.

So make sure, whatever you are going through, that you are remain interested in their education, keep up to date on how they’re progressing (or not) and encourage them to make dreams they can work towards.

2) Emotional destruction

The emotional stress your child may feel after or during your divorce can sometimes lead to behavioral problems. You may find that your child becomes less interested in their school work, and even starts to play up in class or in their school playground.

If this happens they can fall behind in their class work, and even start to earn a poor reputation that can lead to exclusion at school. Even if it doesn’t get that far, they certainly will struggle to achieve their potential.

Divorce can cause various types of emotions in a child, including confusion, anger, feelings of loss, and anxiety. So it’s important you encourage them to open up about how they are feeling with you, stay in close contact with their teachers, and if you feel they need it, seek outside psychological support for them.

3) Difficulty in understanding

Whatever age your child it can be hard for the to come to terms with divorce. If they are young, they literally may not understand what mummy and daddy no linger live together or spend time with them together.

If your child is older, they will obviously be able to grasp the concept of divorce but may still struggle to accept it, or understand why it’s come about. This can lead to many issues, from hyperactivity problems to emotional withdrawal.

This can cause issues at school, and impact their ability (or desire) to focus in lessons, making some subjects, such as science, math, and history more difficult to understand.

So, again, ensure that you explain as well as you can to your chid what is happening, and help them to come to terms with the new situation as best you can. And if you feel they need extra support, help them to get it.  

4) Dropping out of school

If your child is at senior school, especially if they’re already in the throes of puberty, and struggling with their hormones, divorce can trigger a change in attitude and lead to them dropping out and increasingly being absent from school.

They can find themselves directing their anger and frustration at whoever is nearest, and lose any motivation to attend lessons, or struggle to abide by the rules imposed by school.

Collaborative research by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and the Brookings Institute, shows that the rate of high school dropouts among students who have experienced a parental divorce was at 31%.

That’s not to say that every child of a broken family is going to end up quitting school, but studies show that the likelihood increases. So it is important to bear this in mind, and look out for early warning signs, such as cutting class, or frequently getting into trouble at school.

If this happens, speak to the school and let them know what is happening at home, and see if you can work together to help your child through this. It may be that your child would benefit from someone to talk to outside your home and school to work through their feelings of anger, confusion and loss of faith.

Help your child through this period

When a marriage ends, it can be devastating – not least for any children involved. And as angry and hurt as you may be, as parents we all have a responsibility to put the welfare of our children first.

So make sure that, in a world that has changed irrevocably for them, you can help to keep their school life consistent and on track. Look out for any signs that their academic studies may be impacted by your divorce and take steps to help them where you can, or get them the help they need.

Michael Turner is an academic counselor working with school and college kids, their parents and teachers to find holistic solutions to students’ problems.

He’s also a top-rated academic writer and works on the side on thesis and dissertation assignments. In his free time, he likes pursuing his hobbies, drawing caricatures, bike riding and watching movies.