Divorce is not just the story of the couple parting ways but it is more of a story of the children who are products of a divorced marriage. Human children need parents longer than any other species and are totally dependent on parents for food, shelter, and protection for the first several years of life. This dependency spawns a fear of abandonment. In divorce, one of the parents leaves. When one parent leaves, the children feel rejected. The loss children feel at divorce is similar to that experienced when a parent dies. Divorce might actually be harder on children because it lacks the concrete cause and finality of death (Bryner, 2001).
This causes most of the children of divorce to be more aggressive, impulsive and develop antisocial behavior compared to children from intact families (Hetherington, 1999). Others also exhibit lower academic performance (Kelly, 1998). However, some children manage to develop without these deleterious effects of divorce. As a matter of fact, these children are found to have less stereotyped sex behavior, greater maturity and greater independence (Emery, 1995). The developmental stage of the child when the divorce of his parents occurs is predictive of the childs behavior and reaction towards the situation.
An infant or a toddler will not react at all to his parents divorce because he cant still comprehend the situation. However, a preschooler will tend to blame himself as the culprit of his parents divorce. Because he feels guilty and fears that the remaining parent may also leave him, he becomes more possessive of his parent (Roseby, 1998). For a young school-aged child, the divorce of his parents gives him a sense of responsibility. He feels that he should bring his parents together again and think of strategies that will make his parents interact in any way (Lansky, 1996).
On the other hand, older school-aged children tend to blame one parent and take the side of the other parent. They become anxious and worrisome of the situation which makes them prone to illnesses such as headaches, sleeping disorders, chest pains, diabetes and asthma (Kimball, 1994). The reaction is more deleterious with adolescents who entirely mask their reactions. They switch to other outlets such as peers, sex, alcohol and drugs because they hate being bothered by their parents lives (Thompson, 1998). I have a friend named Diane.
Fourteen years ago, her parents separated by divorce. Back then, she was only turning three and didnt know anything about the chaotic situation between her parents. She was left to the custody of her mother while her father was just obliged by the court to provide some financial assistance. Everything went well with this arrangement until she entered primary school where she had greater monetary needs. Unfortunately, her father had another family and was compelled to reduce the money sent to her. This was the reason why her mother was obligated to work in order to support her.
Because her mother became busy in her work, Diane was always left with her grandmother whenever she was off from school. It was only through her grandmother that everything regarding her family became clear. She hated the fact that her own mother concealed their broken family from her and would always say that her father is just working in a far away place. She realized that she will never have his father back and that her fantasies of having a complete family would never be real. That time, she began to skip classes in school and whenever she would attend a lecture, she never participates in the recitation. She also failed our exams.
I was really worried about the big change in her behavior because she used to be the top student of our class. I just learned about her family problem when she never attended classes for a week and her mother came to our school looking for her. One of our classmates revealed that Diane eloped with her boyfriend. I cant forget the face of Dianes mother crying and blaming herself for what had happened to her daughter. After that, I never saw Diane again. The last news I heard about her was that she is living with her mother again. She broke up with her boyfriend but gave birth to a baby boy, who, like her, is a child of divorce.
Dianes story is just one of the millions of stories which we can get from the life of a child from a broken family. In her case, the effects of divorce were appalling because of the lack of effective communication. It would have been better if both her parents explained to her the situation and the reasons why they should have divorce. When Diane learned that her parents were already divorced, she was very frustrated because she fantasized of having a complete family when her father returns from work. She also felt betrayal because her mother never told her whats real.
These extreme negative emotions changed her attitude and made her rebel against the situation. Also, Dianes mother was very preoccupied in her work thats why she was not able to keep an eye on the performance of her daughter in school. If only she did, maybe she was able to help Diane solve her emotional problems at an early stage. After all, divorce can really cause a big scar but it doesnt really have to. References: Bryner, C. L. (2001). Children of Divorce. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine Practice;14:20110. Diefenbach, H. and Opp, K. D. (2007). When and Why Do People Think There Should Be a Divorce?
http://rss. sagepub. com/cgi/content/abstract/19/4/485. Emery, R. E. and Coiro, M. J. (1995). Divorce: consequences for children. Pediatric Review;16:306 10. Gallagher, M. (1996). The Abolition of Marriage. Regnery Publishing. Hetherington, E. M. and Stanley-Hagan M. (1999). The adjustment of children with divorced parents: a risk andresiliency perspective. Journal of Child Psychology; 40:12940. Kelly, J. B. (1998). Marital conflict, divorce, and childrens adjustment. Child Adolescent Psychiatry;7:259 71. Kimball, G. (1994). How to survive your parents divorce: kids advice to kids.
Chico, California: Equality Press. Lansky, V. (1996). Divorce book for parents helping your child cope with divorce and its aftermath. Minnetonka, MN: Book Peddlers. Roseby, V. and Johnston J. R. (1998). Common developmental threats in high-conflict divorcing families. Child Adolescent Psychiatry;7:295309. Scanzoni, J. (1965). A Reinquiry into Marital Disorganization. Journal of Marriage and the Family 27: 48391. Thompson, P. (1998). Adolescents from families of divorce: vulnerability to physiological and psychological disturbances. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Service;36(3):34 9.