Effects of Divorce on Children Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:06:56
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Category: Childhood

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Although divorce is now allowed by law in some countries, it is still unhealthy for a family especially in the presence of a child. Due to the fact that they are still young, the children often do not understand why some couples need to separate and they respond in a variety of ways that parents should understand and deal with. When the divorce is settled, the children might wonder why their father or their mother is no longer around and this might be quite hard to explain to a young mind.

This produces short and long term effects on the children and even sometimes causes teenagers to rebel against their parents causing more problems than there already is. Another issue regarding children and divorce is who will have custody of the children and alimony. Usually, the mother gets custody over the children while the father still provides financial support. Depending on the situation, the custody is being granted to the father. One problem about divorce is that couples think that the matter is only between them; failing to consider what effects it would have on their children.

Little do they know that the changes that will occur once the divorce takes effect will have many negative effects on children. In a case to case basis, children might feel different because of the many changes that will take place once the divorce becomes effective such as changes in schedules and daily routines as well loss of contact with members of extended family (Parker). Children may also develop a fear that losing one parent will eventually lead to the lost of the other. The loss of attachment of a child to a parent may also lead to the loss of other secure relationships such as friends, siblings, neighbors and even pets.

Children also, more often than not, are attached to their surroundings and divorce sometimes mean moving out or migrating which could prove unhealthy for the wellbeing of a child. A parent also has a tendency to create a dis-attachment between the child and the other parent which could prove to be a major predicament in the psychological health of the child (Parker). Many children tend to think that they are somehow the reason why their parents want to get divorced. Children often remember rough times that they had with their parents such as arguments, poor grades, getting into trouble, vices, etc.

They start to think that the conflict came from them and they start to blame themselves. If this is the case, the parents should make clear that they are not responsible for the conflict and that both of the parents still love them. Explaining custody arrangements would also prove better to prepare the child and for a better understanding (Clandos). In some cases children try to bring their parents back together by either acting out in negative ways or trying so good so that his/her parents would think twice and reconsider about pursuing the divorce (Parker).

As a reaction to a divorce, children especially teenagers show aggressive and defiant behavior. A problem here is that parents usually think that this is the normal behavior of the children instead of a reaction to problem. Parents should be keen observers and must be able to identify if the behavior is still normal. In such cases, children also show depression and parents must watch out for this kind of reactions (Parker). In one study, it has been proven that children have adapted to their parents divorce and have emerged as successful individuals.

According to Constance Ahrons, the author of Were Still Family: What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parents Divorce, although they are now adults, children who belonged in families that divorced emerged stronger and wiser having coped with difficult times and experienced stressful family changes. The research indicated that 79 percent feel that their parents decision to have divorce proved to be a good one. On the other hand, according to David Blankenhorn, founder of the Institute for American Values, a good divorce is not nearly as important as having less divorce.

No matter how good your divorce is, it is still a very painful experience for your child (Peterson). Many children who have grown up may have coped with the effects of divorce but still, a good number of children were affected and were not able to cope with it. It has been proven that children from divorced families are usually victims of abuse and exhibit more health, behavioral and emotional problems compared to children from intact families. Data also indicate that children from divorced families have more likely been associated with drugs, crime and even suicide (Fagan).

According to a survey conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, fatherless children show a much greater risk of committing suicide while another study indicated that three out of four teenage suicide cases are from families where a parent is absent. Moreover, another study by Kalter and Rembar indicated from a sample of 144 children and adolescents that 63 percent showed subjective psychological problems such as anxiety, sadness, moodiness, phobias and depression while 56 percent had poor grades.

Another 43 percent showed aggressive behavior towards their parents (Fatherless Homes Statistics). Children from divorced couples have been noted to perform poorly in academic subjects such as reading, spelling and math. They have also been identified to have higher drop-out rates and more often repeat a grade. It was also indicated that these children have a less likelihood of graduating from college. It was also noted that families that have gone through a divorce have experienced a 50 percent drop in their income levels resulting in poverty.

Divorce also resulted in less religious worship which is associated with many positive outcomes such as better health, longer marriages and improved family life (Fagan). Divorce also affects the sexual behavior of children. Children from divorced families start to accept premarital sex and divorce. The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth indicated that AfricanAmerican girls are 42 percent less likely to have sexual intercourse before age 18 if their biological father is present at home.

For HispanicAmerican girls, the stepfathers presence increases the likelihood of sexual intercourse before age 18 by 72 percent (Fagan). Robert Sampson, a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, discovered that divorce rate is connected to the robbery rate in 171 cities in the United States that have a population of at least 100,000. Lower rate of divorce meant higher social control which in turn also results in lower crime rate. There is also a close line relating child abuse and crime rates.

Higher divorce rates result in higher rates of child abuse but instead of curbing child abuse, remarriage only adds to it. Having a stepfather would most likely increase child abuse and data indicate that serious cases of abuse is much higher for stepchildren compared to children from whole families (Fagan). Likewise, a study by Kalter indicates that teenage and adult females that have been exposed to parental divorce resulted in lower self-esteem, heightened sexual activity, delinquent behavior and are unable to maintain a lasting heterosexual relationship.

It was also stated that girls who grew without interaction from a father missed out on a key element. The continuous sense of being valued and loved as a female seems an especially key element in the development of the conviction that one is indeed femininely lovable. Without this regular source of nourishment, a girls sense of being valued as a female does not seem to thrive (Fatherless Homes Statistics). Children may suffer traumatic experiences in cases of divorce but steps can be taken to reduce these kinds of effects that divorce has on children.

These steps are the following: (1) be honest for the potential of emotional trauma on each of your kids; (2) allow your children to communicate openly; (3) offer your children choices, whenever possible, to increase their sense of power over their lives; (4) find support for yourself and your children; and (5) provide continuity (Clandos). It is, likewise advised not to expose the children to any marital conflict. Talking about the spouses negative behavior should also be avoided while developing amicable relationship with the spouse is advisable for the sake of the children.

Taking care of ones self will also help children adjust to the changes caused by the divorce. Moreover, discussing the separation with the children would also be helpful but one must always be mindful because what one says might affect the outlook of the child in a negative way (Clandos). Some changes in behavior may be observed from children that have been affected by the separation. Some children who are most of the time jolly and playful may become moody and may lose self-esteem. Sadness and moodiness may become excessive at times.

Children also sometimes develop a fear of clinginess and may show anger outbursts (Clandos). Teen marriage account for a good percentage of divorce cases. Early marriages have been considered more unstable because of different factors such as the inability to support a family because of the absence of a good paying job having not finished college. It is estimated that one half of teen marriages with women ranging from 18 to 19 years of age result in divorce within 15 years time although the rate of divorce for women over 20 is also particularly high at around 33 percent.

In cases of out-of -wedlock pregnancies, marrying before giving birth will increase paternal support because the male partner would have better access to the child and may provide better financial support even if there is a high risk that the marriage will result in an divorce (Seiler, 7). According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, over time, the rate of divorce per 100 marriages have increased from three in 1870 to 30 in 1945 and 51 in 1998 (Fagan).

Half of the marriages in the US end in divorce and from this data, one may state that people now no longer consider marriage as a strong binding force for a couple. Marriage now no longer provides a perception that it is permanent. Marriage is also no longer considered as a life-changing decision because of the availability of divorce. Dating games such as The Bachelor which sometimes end in marriage is proof enough that people no longer take marriage seriously. A divorce is caused by many factors such as common misunderstandings, financial difficulties, adultery, vices, and other irreconcilable differences.

Many couples experience financial difficulties and this is one cause of divorce but prior to what most believe, financial problems are not the top cause of divorce. It only ranks fourth or fifth next to other factors that produce higher divorce rates, namely, incompatibility, lack of emotional support, abuse and sexual problems. According to Jan Andersen, associate professor at California State University in Sacramento, only 5 percent of divorce cases are caused by a couples financial difficulties (Weston).

Other usual causes of divorce aside from financial problems are lack of commitment to the marriage, lack of communication between spouses, infidelity, abandonment, alcohol addiction, substance abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, inability to manage or resolve conflict, personality differences or irreconcilable differences,differences in personal and career goals, different expectations about household tasks,different expectations about having or rearing children, interference from parents or in-laws, lack of maturity, intellectual incompatibility, sexual incompatibility, insistence of sticking to traditional roles and not allowing room for personal growth, falling out of love, religious conversion or religious beliefs, cultural and lifestyle differences, inability to deal with each others petty idiosyncrasies, mental instability or mental illness, criminal behavior and incarceration for crime (Panse). Even if many countries legally accept divorce, there are still some countries that do not approve of divorce and most of these countries are against divorce because of religious beliefs. In biblical texts, adultery is often mentioned but nothing is clearly mentioned about divorce. Even theology scholars and pastors do not share the same views regarding biblical teachings about divorce. Christian scholars have different positions regarding the controversial issue.

They argue that (1) divorce is never permitted under any circumstances; (2) divorce is permissible under certain, specified circumstances; and (3) divorce is permissible under many circumstances (House). The first argument supports that marriage is lifelong and permanent and divorce is against Gods standards and Christians are strictly prohibited from having divorce. Those who support the second argument that divorce is permissible under specific circumstances believe that divorce is not prohibited by biblical texts. They believe that one spouse commiting adultery means that a divorce can be allowed. Desertion is also being considered as a valid reason for divorce in this argument.

On the other hand, the third view argues that divorce is allowed not just for conditions of adultery and desertion but for many other conditions as well (House). Generally speaking, divorce has many adverse effects on children. It affects their behavior, emotional and psychological health. Although some research studies indicate that children have been able to overcome the behavioral, emotional and psychological effects caused by divorce and were able to break out as successful individuals, many children still suffer from the harmful effects of divorce. As discussed, children from divorced families have a higher tendency to commit suicide, are more likely to commit crime and premarital sex as well as having poorer performance in academics.

To sum it up, divorce does not provide any good effects on children and because of the many negative effects, it would be better if couples do not resort to divorce so as not to disregard the well-being of their children. It would be better off if couples just settle their differences for the sake of the children. It is also recommended that the government take steps to at least be able to lessen the cases of divorce if not eliminate it. On the other hand, the church should re-orient people the importance of marriage and deciding who to marry as simple as it has become today. The Church must make the people know that marriage is a life-changing decision. The status of marriage, particularly in the United States which is one of the countries with the highest divorce rates, is not strong.

Works Cited

Parker, Wayne. The Effects of Divorce on Children and How to Cope. accessed April 2, 2008 from, Clandos, Rosemary, Kemp, Gina M. A. , Jaffe, Jaelline Ph. D. , & Segal, Jeanne Ph. D. 28 September 2007. Coping with Divorce: Helping Your Child Cope with Separation or Divorce. accessed April 2, 2008 from, Peterson, Karen. Is Divorce a Bad Thing? Does it often leave broken children in its wake? Apparently not. 2004 June. accessed April 2, 2008 from,

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