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Required to Hear False Information – and Pay for It – in Order to Divorce?

bunnyStarting later this year, if you want to get a divorce in Oklahoma and you have kids younger than 18, you are going to have to take a course first, and pay for it yourself. Among the topics to be included in the course is “the effects divorce has on a child’s well-being.”

My guess is that Oklahomans are being forced to pay for propaganda. For many years, I have been scrutinizing claims about the supposed effects of divorce on children, and the implications for children of single parenting. Wildly exaggerated claims and misrepresentations of the actual data are rampant.

Reporters rarely, if ever, seem to understand the methodological complexities in figuring out the actual implications of divorce. They rarely acknowledge even the most basic scientific fact – we can never know definitively the “effects” of divorce because we cannot ethically do the kind of study that is the scientific gold standard, a true experiment in which people are randomly assigned to different conditions (such as getting divorced or staying married).

Also routinely ignored is that the alternative to divorce is often not a loving, attentive, conflict-free family but a tense, emotionally inflamed situation riddled with anger, recriminations, and fighting (emotional and/or physical) – or a steely cold and uncommunicative home. Neither conflict nor emotional frigidity is good for kids. Obviously, neither is violence.

There are also ways in which kids sometimes do better once their parents have divorced. Those kinds of results have been reported in reputable scientific journals (though that in itself is not always a reliable indicator of a good study). I don’t think I have ever seen a media report that acknowledged any of those potentially positive implications of divorce or of single parenting.

In Singled Out, I devoted a chapter to debunking the myth that the children of single parents are doomed. Below are some articles I have written about single parents and their kids since then. There are also relevant sections in Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How to Stop It. (Paperback is here; ebook is here.) The Bedford Reader has included an adapted version of my Singled Out chapter on the children of single parents in each of the past two editions.

Enough with the Myth of the Doomed Kids; Let’s Have Some Facts

The Children Are Listening

The Media Piles On – and Gets It Wrong

The Politics of Single Parenting

The Big Picture

Broken photo image available from Shutterstock.

Required to Hear False Information – and Pay for It – in Order to Divorce?

Bella DePaulo, Ph.D

Bella DePaulo (Ph.D., Harvard; Academic Affiliate, Psychological and Brain Sciences, UC Santa Barbara), an expert on single life, is the author of several books, including "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After" and "How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century." Her TEDx talk is "What no one ever told you about people who are single." Dr. DePaulo has discussed singles and single life on radio and television, including NPR and CNN, and her work has been described in newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and magazines such as Time, Atlantic, the Week, More, the Nation, Business Week, AARP Magazine, and Newsweek. Dr. DePaulo is in her sixties. She has always been single and always will be. She is "single at heart" -- single is how she lives her best and most meaningful life. Visit her website at

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APA Reference
DePaulo, B. (2014). Required to Hear False Information – and Pay for It – in Order to Divorce?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Jun 2014
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