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Divorce and Children

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It seems that more and more marriages are falling apart everyday. Divorce

rates seen to be climbing astronomically. In so many of these divorces there are

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children to be considered. What is best for the child? Who will get custody? Will

the child be scarred for life? It’s really hard to say. The overall effects on our

children vary according to the factors involved. I am going to attempt to discuss a

few of the problems that can occur with children of divorced families and what

parents can do to ease the transition.

I will limit this discussion to infantile age thru

Let’s start with understanding the parents role concerning being together or

Obviously, two parents can provide children with far more guidance,

sustenance, and protection than one, and are more likely to prevent

the kinds of psychological disturbance that may result from

deprivations of these necessities …When one parent is temporarily

absent from the intact home, it is likely that the other will be available

to ratify the child’s needs in a loving way.

This is not so readily the

situation in the divorced home. ( Gardner, 1977).

In this statement he illustrates the importance of having both parents together. This

can be emphasized further with a statement from Buchanan, Maccoby, and

Children’s parents are their anchors. Parents provide the

structure for children’s daily lives, and even when parents are not

functioning very well, children depend on them for a sense of

security that enables them to cope with their developmental tasks.

When one parent leaves the home, the child realizes a shattering

possibility; parents are not always there.

It is not hard to realize that divorce can have a devastating effect on children.

Let’s brake it down by age groups; infants, toddlers, and so on. DeBorg

(1997) states that infants “do not understand conflict, but may react to changes in

parents energy level and mood.” She goes on to list possible reactions like “loss of

appetite; upset stomach – may spit up more; more fretful or anxious.” She says that

“parents should keep their normal routines,” and “stay calm in front of the child.”

Toddlers “understand that a parent has moved away, but doesn’t understand

why.” I know that my son was very confused. He was only two when my wife and I

separated. He seemed to display allot of anger and insecurity. DeBorg says that a

toddlers reactions could include “more crying, clinging; problems sleeping;

regression to infant behaviors; and worry when parent is out of sight.” My son, his

name is Cody, definitely fits this profile. He cried constantly. It seemed that

nothing would calm him down. If you got him to go to sleep, good luck keeping him

there. As far as infant behaviors go, his biggest problems were wanting to be rocked

like when he was younger and trying to go back to the bottle. DeBorg say to “allow

some return to infantile behaviors, but set clear limits.” Easier said than done I can

Preschoolers “don’t understand what separation or divorce means,” they

“realize one parent is not as active in his or her life” (DeBorg, 1997). Their

reactions could include “pleasant and unpleasant fantasies; feeling uncertain about

the future; feeling responsible; and they may hold their anger inside.” Deborg’s first

strategy listed for parents is to “encourage the child to talk.” This makes sense if

you are concerned with straitening out these issues of anger and feeling responsible.

It seems to be the only way to really understand your child’s problems.

Gardner (1977, p. 42) talks of something called the “oedipal phase.” He

explains that this occurs between ages three and five. “This is the period… when a

child develops a strong possessive attachment to the opposite-sexed parent.”

Gardner says that “at times the attraction can take on mildly sexual overtones toward

the opposite-sexed parent…”, but “the sexual desires are generally not for

intercourse, the child being too young to appreciate that act.” He explains that “if a

boy begins sleeping in Mother’s bed thoughout the night, an a continual basis, the

likelihood that oedipal problems will arise is great… this holds true for a father and

daughter when they are the ones who remain together following the separation”(p.

91). Learning of this has raised my concerns for my son. His mother lets him sleep

with her every night, and she believes nothing is wrong with the arrangement. This

is a factor I will deal with on my own, as soon as I figure out what to do.

Continuing on to early elementary age, children’s understanding becomes

more apparent. DeBorg (1997) says that children “begin to understand what divorce

is,” and “understand that her or his parents won’t live together anymore and that

they may not love each other as before.” Reactions, as she describes, could include

feelings of deception and a sense of loss. Children have “hopes that parents will get

back together,” and “feel rejected by the parent who left.” Children of this age can

have symptoms of illness like “loss of appetite, sleep problems, diarrhea” and may

“complain of headaches or stomach aches.” DeBorg does not list any ways of

curving these symptoms of illness, however she does list some strategies for helping

these children adjust. She writes, “encourage the child to talk about how he or she

feels; answer all questions about changes…; and reassure the child.” From my

standpoint, these ideas hold true regardless of the situation. You should always

encourage your children to talk about there feelings and always take them seriously.

Children can adjust to divorce. It is years of subsequent

fighting between their parents, or an inappropriate child custody plan

that can take a terrible toll” (Olsen, 1998).

So if you want to help your children succeed, then help them adjust to your divorce

together; mom and dad. Never let them feel that they cannot have a relationship

with the other parent if at all possible.

Gardner, R. A. (1977). The Parents Book About Divorce. Garden City, NY:
Doubleday & Company, Inc.

Buchanan, C. M., Maccoby, E. E., & Dornbusch, S. M. (1996). Adolescents
After Divorce. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

DeBorg, K. (1997). Focus on Kids: The Effects of Divorce On Children.

Olsen, P. (1998). Child Custody Savvy. http://www.savvypsych.com/

Cite this Divorce and Children

Divorce and Children. (2018, Jun 07). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/divorce-and-children-essay/

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