Medical Branch Clinic, Naval Hospital, Jacksonville, Fla.

J Am Board Fam Med. 2001;14(3) 

In This Article


Certain recurring themes emerge clearly from the literature on divorce. The main point is that reducing the level of conflict between the two parents is most strongly associated with the eventual adjustment of the children of all families, including the families of divorce. Mediation of conflicts and civil interaction between parents must be encouraged. Understanding children's reactions to the separation of their family and understanding what role the stage of child development plays in the reactions of children can help physicians guide patients through the divorce and decrease the havoc experienced by these families. This assistance, in turn, will help the children, who often are caught in the crossfire of a conflicted marriage or a failed divorce.

Simple rules can give parents a guideline at a time when their own objectivity and emotional stability can be sadly lacking. Table 1

lists the 10 most important points the parents must understand. These points should be reinforced whenever possible and perhaps distributed in a written format for later reference. These simple 10 rules can help all families reduce the confrontations and tensions during this series of major family transitions.


Some children who are products of divorce are emotional wrecks whose lives are seriously damaged by their parents' separation and the conflicts that preceded, accompanied, and followed the divorce. More often, the children of divorce develop into normal, healthy adults who go on to reach the levels of success and mental well-being that every parent wishes for their children. Divorce can scar, but it does not have to.

The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and should not be construed as official or reflecting the views of the United States Navy or the Department of Defense.


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