COVID-19 has put a strain on the world in a number of ways, one of which is by forcing couples into extremely difficult circumstances — ones that they don’t always make it through. In recent weeks, there have been reports about the rising rates of divorce filings, as well as articles detailing how so many relationships of all kinds are struggling due to the pandemic.
Even celebrities aren’t getting out of it unscathed, with folks like HGTV’s Christina Anstead and reality star Kristin Cavallari revealing their exits from unhappy marriages. Even singer Kelly Clarkson has gone public about her divorce from her husband of seven years, Brandon Blackstock. But Clarkson’s announcement added that she was doing her best to keep details private for the sake of her children, and it’s a move that many parents right now can relate to. Divorce is hard enough for adults — but how are the kids handling it?
Are the kids alright?
There have been numerous studies conducted to try and figure out just how detrimental (if at all) divorce can be on kids. One study states that the majority of kids whose parents get divorced only experience “modest and relatively short-lived” negative effects, and that while “most children report painful feelings about their parents’ divorce,” it’s only a minority that suffer prolonged issues. An article published in Scientific American in 2013 explored this topic in-depth and also found that, overall, kids tend to be alright after divorce.
The pandemic could exacerbate symptoms
That said, it can still be difficult for families, especially these days, to cope with divorce. Kids may exhibit symptoms ranging from anger and separation anxiety to depression and risk-taking behavior, which may be especially dangerous given the current need for all individuals to stay safe for themselves as well as the well-being of society while trying to keep COVID-19 numbers low. Some kids may also struggle with academics, which may be further exacerbated in today’s already confusing world of virtual and hybrid learning.
Helping children cope
But there are many ways to help kids cope with the end of a marriage. Keeping conflict away from little eyes and ears, minimizing routine changes for kids, having lots of honest and open (and especially peaceful) conversations with your kids can all be great ways to minimize confusion and frustration for children. It’ll also be beneficial for children if the parents make sure to manage their divorce more effectively, by doing things like creating budgets (because divorce is rarely cheap), figuring out living arrangements (which can be trickier especially for high-risk individuals in a pandemic) and putting together a co-parenting plan that works for all.
Despite some studies from faith-leaning scientific publications recommending that families try to stick it out, even they recognize that in cases of abuse and violence, divorce is always preferable. The abuse doesn’t always have to come in physical form either — emotional and verbal abuse can be extremely damaging as well. Essentially, staying together for the kids is an outdated notion that can often prove to be much more damaging than a divorce, and can even prove deadly in unsafe households.
Seeing a marriage crumble can feel devastating for all involved, but in the end, can lead to happier lives for each individual. Clarkson, Anstead, and Cavallari won’t be the last ones to file for divorce before this difficult year is through, but for those worried about how their children will fare, just remember kids are more resilient than you think, and if they’ve made it this far into the pandemic, odds are they’ll be just fine.
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