Parents will often delay a decision to pursue a divorce until their children have left home for college. The thinking is that with the children gone, there’s no need to continue being married. For many students, their parent’s divorce leads to severe academic challenges.
Issues that students struggle with include:
- 1. Feeling guilty that if they hadn’t left home for college their parents would still be together.
- 2. Struggling with the adjustment to the reality of their parent’s divorce (e.g. not knowing who to stay with when they go home).
- 3. Facing the reality of reduced financial support especially when one parent is unwilling or unable to provide college support
- 4. Adjusting to a new person in their life if one or both parents become involved with a significant other.
There are some things that you can do to help your son/daughter should you feel that a divorce is necessary.
- 1. Delay the divorce until your student has been in college for a semester. The transition to college is tough enough without having to deal with the issues that a divorce brings on.
- 2. Discuss the divorce with your son/daughter face-to-face rather than by phone. During this discussion, make it clear that your son/daughter did not cause the divorce.
- 3. Work out a college payment plan prior to the conclusion of the divorce. Your son/daughter’s college education should not be collateral damage in the divorce settlement.
- 4. Ask your son/daughter to tell you his/her preferences for visits home (e.g. frequency, who to stay with). What you don’t want to do is to make visits home to be a part of an on-going dispute between parents.
- 5. Realize that your son/daughter will be seeking his/her own relationships with you. This would happen even if you weren’t divorcing. Don’t try to hang on to the way things were because these are going to be changing no matter what.
Getting a divorce is a life altering event. It’s rarely a pleasant experience for students, but for students making the transition to college, divorce can lead to academic as well as personal issues if not managed well..