Effects of Divorce on Children Essay

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Divorce has a significant impact on children. It is increasingly chosen by couples who are unhappy in their marriage and is now the most frequent occurrence in the United States. In fact, about one million children experience divorce each year in the US, which accounts for approximately one-third of all children (Amato 21). The consequences of divorce can be extremely troubling for both children and adults. Children whose parents go through a divorce have a greater chance of encountering challenges in their behavior, social life, education, and mental well-being when compared to those raised in households with both parents.

Renowned divorce researcher Sarah McLanahan at Princeton University contends that relocation is one of the most harmful consequences for children following divorce. Apart from the initial separation, children may encounter various other difficulties, including financial hardships. Moreover, significant events like moving can result in the loss of important friendships which could otherwise assist them in dealing with the added stress arising from their altered situations.

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According to McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, the risk of being a high school dropout increases by up to 40% due to moving resulting from divorce (Chira 01E). The immediate effects of divorce differ based on the age and gender of children. Boys and girls exhibit different emotional responses to breakups; some may become angry, some may feel sad, and others may experience feelings of rejection. Preschool children, specifically those aged three to five, often respond with anger and sadness. Additionally, many preschoolers will display regression behavior once they have processed the initial shock of the separation.

Children who exhibit signs of regression, such as requesting a security blanket, wetting the bed, sucking their thumb, requiring help with eating, or showing aggression towards their siblings, may be experiencing a decrease in emotional maturity. According to Teyber (11), children in this age group who come from single-parent households are more likely to feel anxious and insecure compared to those raised by both parents. The majority of preschool-aged children face abandonment issues and fear that if one parent has left the home, the other might do so as well. As these children grow older, the impact of divorce on them may vary but remains equally distressing.

Children aged six to eight often struggle when their parents separate, especially boys who tend to feel sadness as their main emotional reaction. These children may cry frequently and feel abandoned by the departing parent. Many kids in this age bracket attempt to reconcile their parents and become preoccupied with concerns about their family.

Children can experience adverse effects from rejection, such as academic decline and emotional challenges like low self-esteem and anxiety. Younger children may feel profound sadness, while older school-aged children (aged nine to twelve) often express their emotions through anger. Within this age group, many boys exhibit rebellious behavior and become harder to manage, even rejecting visits from the non-custodial parent. Divorce scenarios frequently result in these children aligning with one parent and becoming entangled in harmful conflicts.

In this age group, numerous children experience emotions such as anger, sadness, and loneliness. They also feel a lack of control over their lives and powerlessness. This feeling of powerlessness, combined with anger, results in around 50% of students seeing a decrease in their school performance (Teyber 12). Furthermore, these children often suffer from physical symptoms like headaches and stomachaches. Moreover, they encounter challenges when it comes to getting along with their peers.

When comparing school-age children and preschool and younger children, gender differences are evident. In this age group, boys tend to display more challenging behavior than girls. One possible reason for this is that many children live with their mothers after a divorce (Teyber 12), resulting in a lack of same-sex parental figure as fathers may not be actively involved in parenting. On the other hand, girls commonly encounter difficulties during adolescence when they start dating and exploring relationships, which marks the initiation of their pursuit of independence.

While these young individuals can offer meaningful support during challenging periods by assuming household duties and building stable connections with their younger siblings, their enhanced maturity often arises from assisting the family in navigating the newly emerged crisis. Generally, teenagers cope with divorce by emotionally disconnecting themselves from the matter and focusing solely on their personal destinies and ambitions. Conversely, feelings of betrayal may prompt certain adolescents to engage in early sexual relationships, encounter depression, and even lose sight of their future objectives.

Many older school-aged children will be encouraged to take sides and actively involve themselves in their parents’ conflicts. Adolescent girls often face particular challenges during this time. They often experience emotional distress when their father is absent, which they interpret as rejection. If a girl does not receive consistent care and affection from a nurturing man, her sense of femininity may not develop properly (Kalter 4). However, most teenagers are primarily focused on themselves and how their parents’ disagreements will impact their future prospects of attending college and having a successful marriage.

The initial years following a divorce can prove to be challenging, yet their impact tends to endure. Comparatively, the enduring repercussions of divorce usually hold greater harm than the immediate ones. Various factors contribute to these long-lasting effects, particularly when children are exposed to ongoing parental conflicts, parental alienation, absence of structure or discipline, and manipulation towards favoring one parent over the other.

Multiple studies have indicated that children from divorced parents often encounter higher levels of marital conflict. These children may also develop trust and loyalty problems, which can persist in their own relationships later on. Additionally, men who have gone through divorce often struggle to actively engage with their own children, mirroring the behavior of the non-custodial parent towards them. Similarly, females raised in single-parent homes are more prone to having children outside of wedlock and generally hold pessimistic attitudes towards their personal relationships.

According to Spruijt (897), children from divorced families frequently exhibit distinct variations in their choices for education and career following high school, as opposed to children from intact families. Nevertheless, it is crucial to acknowledge that divorce does not always yield long-lasting problems. The extent and type of support provided to your child during a divorce will influence their capacity to handle the separation and its consequences. It is not the actual divorce that causes issues, but rather how parents handle the situation. In certain instances, divorce can even be beneficial for all parties involved, including the children.

According to Dr. Sue Behren, a seasoned divorce counselor, divorce might be the sole solution for cases involving spousal abuse. Based on her research, it is evident that children have better outcomes when they are not consistently exposed to conflict and tension in their household. Dr. Behren dismisses the notion of parents remaining together solely for the sake of their children. In today’s society, nearly 50% of marriages ultimately result in divorce.

According to Frank F. Furstunberg and Andrew J. Cherlin, two leading divorce researchers, approximately 15 percent of children in divorced families will witness the parent they reside with remarry and redivorce before turning 18 (Chira 01E). Divorce impacts around one million new children annually (Parents.com). Despite the significant number of failed marriages, the divorce rate across the country has decreased, indicating a growing awareness of the impact of divorce on children (Stein 1A).

The effects of divorce on children can be resolved with the help of their parents (Amato, Loomis, & Booth, 1995; Bisnaire, Firestone, & Rynard, 1990; Chira, 1995; Donahue, 1997; Drill, 1986; Hester, 1997; Kalter, 1987; Sprujt & Goede, 1997; Stein).The text states that the Chicago Tribune published an article on January 15, 1995, with the title “Helping Children Cope With Divorce” by Edward Teyber. Additionally, it mentions that the article can be found on page 1A. It also provides information about Teyber’s book, titled “Helping Children Cope With Divorce,” published in San Francisco by Jossey in 1992.

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