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Daughters Suffer from Low Self-Esteem When Parents Divorce

Posted on in Children

children and divorce, divorce trends, low self-esteem, marital dissolution, severe fatigue, Wheaton family law attorney, childhood self-esteem, child depressionDivorce studies often identify the emotional effects marital dissolution can have on children. Divorce can impact school work, peer socialization, and future marriages once children become adults. However, one conclusion has emerged throughout several studies showing that a daughter's self-esteem is more susceptible when parents divorce than the self-esteem of a son.

A study of 5,631 teenagers revealed that almost one-fourth of girls with absent fathers in their early childhood years grew into teenagers who suffered from depression. Another 23 percent developed severe fatigue and sadness in their adult years when divorce occurred before they were five years old. These young girls were 50 percent more likely to struggle with psychological and emotional problems later on than older girls whose parents divorced. On the other hand, only one out of ten young boys suffered from depression in their teens years when their parents split up. For older boys, the number increased to 17 percent.

In addition, another study published in the Journal of Divorce & Remarriage revealed almost identical results in its survey of 102 adult children of divorce. The study "The Psychological Adjustment of Adult Children of Divorce," found that daughters suffered from low self-esteem when they had a parent absent from their life at an early age. Sons who went through the same experiences did not. This study also found a daughter's self-esteem was more affected by the arguing and conflicts between the parents both during the marriage and after the divorce, but again, a son's self-esteem was not.

The study's author suggested several ways parents who are divorcing or are divorced can help foster their daughter's self-esteem:

  • Provide a "safe place" where your daughter can share her feelings with you and make sure to validate those feelings;
  • Do not speak badly about the other parent to your daughter. This will only cause her to feel conflicted in her loyalty, or having to choose sides;
  • If a father is absent from a daughter's life, attempt to help repair the relationship if possible. The scars a negative father-daughter relationship leave can be far reaching into her adulthood and affect future relationships for her;
  • Encourage your daughter to stand up for herself and not be so quick to "please" everyone; and
  • Help her find activities that she will enjoy and will help build her confidence. Remember, it is her efforts that should be recognized, not her performance.

If you are thinking of filing for a divorce and anticipate having child custody issues, contact an experienced Wheaton family law attorney to discuss your legal options.

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