Students with divorced parents may feel like they are the only ones without the quintessential happy family as they are caught between the chaotic worlds of home life and college.
According to a study by the Barna Group, a research and
resource organization focused on the intersection of faith and culture,
33 percent of all marriages end in divorce.
Until the children have grown and left home, many parents delay divorce.
John Lochman, a UA psychology professor, said many parents
do this to try to spare the student from problems and pain. But the
decision to wait could have a worse impact on college students than
Lochman said it’s very disillusioning.
“They might feel like they were just living a lie,” he added.
And some students may also feel guilty for causing their parents to stay in a bad relationship for their own sake.
In addition, Lochman said they may tend toward anger,
feeling that their parents misguided them along the way. Students may
also feel overwhelmed by the stress of financial consequences that
Parents experience double living expenses when they split
into two homes, which impact their ability to pay a student’s tuition.
A 2007 study by Linda Luecken at Arizona State University
showed the factors that caused health problems in students of divorced
A peaceful divorce resolution helped students stay healthy
while a divorce that was never finalized and fully resolved caused a
negative long-term effect on health, according to the study.
And students who kept in close contact with their father did better post divorce than those with little or no contact.
The manner in which parents handle their emotions affects how the student will handle their own, Lochman said.
Students may follow the pattern and find it harder to
automatically use good conflict resolving skills if parents continually
leave conflicts unresolved. They may also become depressed or get angry
about issues that in the past might not have bothered them.
There are still healthy ways of coping despite the negative effects.
Lochman said students should find means of anger and stress
management as well as find an effective relaxation method. He suggested
controlled breathing or exercise.
Furthermore, students should change their state of mind by focusing on a pleasant aspect of life for 10 minutes.
A freshman majoring in biology, Riley Kraus, recently found out that her mother was getting divorced again.
She feels stressed knowing her stepdad will continue paying for much of her school expenses after the divorce.
Kraus said her stepdad
is financially burdened by something he’s not legally supposed to do.
She would feel absolutely guilty without her scholarship. It didn’t make
the reality any easier for Kraus though she saw the divorce coming. She
felt as if she had gotten the bad end seeing other friends whose
parents had never been through a divorce.
But Kraus said her success at the University despite family
frustrations has demonstrated an ability to overcome future obstacles.
She copes by talking about the issue with close friends who
have had the same experiences and focusing on college has also helped
her distract herself from thinking about the divorce.
A sophomore majoring in biology, Caroline Hicks, said her
church supported her through her parents’ divorce at the end of her
senior year in high school.
She said it was a long process.
She was shocked about her parents’ decision but accepted that they knew what was best for them.
Aside from relying on friends for support and advice, she
also coped by making sure she never kept anything in. She was able to
eventually get to the point where she saw the positive things that came
from the divorce.
Hicks said she appreciated the coinciding transitions
although leaving for college might have caused additional stress.
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