A new study, as reported in the New York Times (see references) seems to suggest that boys do worse when parents divorce than do girls. Roni Carin Rabin, staff reporter for the New York Times, in commenting on a recent study by Dr. Esme Fuller-Thompson, a professor at the University of Toronto, finds that boys with divorced parents are at greater risk of developing suicidal thoughts than are boys who grow up without their parents divorcing.
Dr. Fuller-Thompson and her constituents studied surveys that were sent out to various communities throughout Canada and extrapolated data and found that boys of divorced parents were 2 to 3 times more likely to respond “yes” when asked if they had experienced suicidal feelings. In contrast, after factoring in normal childhood stresses, it appeared that girls of divorced parents were on par with girls that were not children of divorce when responding to the same question.
After the conclusion of the study, Fuller-Thompson, published her results in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, along with comments and observations. She says that she believes that boys are under more stress than girls when parents divorce due to the fact that boys more often are expected to show strength in the face of adversity and to be be brave and strong, thereby denying them an outlet for their grief or frustration. She also mentions that it’s possible that because more often than not, children of divorce grow up with the mother rather than the father, which leaves the young boys without a role model.
It has also been noted by many who have studied this issue that it’s possible that due to sudden financial downturns for mothers of children of divorce that young boys living with those mothers find themselves caught in a position of feeling like the “man of the house” but aren’t able to provide financial support, or any other kind either, and thus spend their formative years feeling helpless and un-masculine.
There are many who might argue that boys who are raised by their mothers after divorce are simply more in touch with their feelings and are therefore more likely to respond with a yes, when asked about personal issues than are boys who grew up with a male role model. There are also others who would argue that both boys and girls suffer the same negative consequences of divorce, but that boys are simply catching up with the girls later on. This is backed up by the same study which showed that the numbers for boys and girls answering yes to the question about suicide were about equal.