Negative Effects of Divorce on Children
Divorce has a strong negative effect on children. The children are brought into the family and then ripped out of what they know is right or of their norms. James M. Henslin defines the family as being two or more people who consider themselves related by blood, marriage, or adoption (445). When married you are instantaneously put into a family.
When two people decide to get a divorce, their children do not wholly understand what is going on. “Regardless of their age, children usually blame themselves when their parents divorce” (Bankston 382). They don’t understand their parents anger at each other, so they believe this is happening because of something they have done. This is why parents need to open up and see that it is not just about themselves, but it is also about the welfare of their children.
Children of any age have difficulty expressing hurt feelings and sadness to parents who are themselves angry and grieving. Responsible parents will develop a parenting plan that coordinates visitation, maintains financial obligations, and takes time to deal with children’s feelings in each state of the divorce process (Bankston 382).
These parents need to take the initiative and explain to the children what is happening. Also they need to meet the needs of the children, before themselves, to prevent further psychological damage to the kids.
When divorced, the children go through many emotional changes. “Children of divorce are more depressed and aggressive toward parents and teachers than are youngsters from intact families. They are much more likely to develop mental and emotional disorders later on in life” (Leo 2000). Children and teenagers have a hard time adjusting to the loss of one member. They tend to blame themselves and this stress eats at
them, which causes pain and trouble later.
Some other downfalls, to the children of divorced parents, would be they start engaging in sexual activity sooner, are more likely to have children out of wedlock, are less likely to marry, and if they marry, are more likely to get divorced. They are likelier to abuse drugs, turn to crime, and commit suicide (Leo 2000). These are all unfortunate incidences that could have been lessened or even prevented. When Henslin stated that the family consists of two or more people, this is still true for after the divorce. Henslin gives great points when helping children adjust to divorce.
The adjustment is better if (1) both parents show understanding and affection; (2) the child lives with a parent who is making a good adjustment; (3) family routines are consistent; (4) the family has adequate money for its needs; and (5) that the child lives with a parent of the same sex (466).
When the parents show love and affection toward the children, their welfare is better in the long run. These examples are only of the physical and emotional changes. Let’s take a look at more emotional changes that occur.
These children are torn between their parent. They were never told to make a choice between one or the other before and they are having a hard time doing that now. “Studies show that these children have more hostility, anxiety, and nightmares, and they don’t do as well in school” (Henslin 466). Parents tend to forget that their children are going through the same emotional roller coaster that they are. When they realize why the children are acting a certain way, it is too late to fix the damage. Later on in life, these children are inclined to reject their parents because of this damage brought on them.
Findings from longitudinal research indicate that although parent-child conflict might dissipate over time, adult children separated families report feeling less affection for their parents, spending less time with them, and engaging in fewer intergenerational exchanges of assistance compares to adults from intact families (Woodward 2000).
By not interacting with their children, when the divorce was in action, they lose them in the future.
Consequences of divorce, not only effect children physically or emotionally, but also financially. “Receipt of neither alimony nor child support has been reliable, however, and divorced women and their children may not be able to count on that income for their survival.” (McFadden 1997). This means that the essentials for living will not be as accessible. Other consequences would be “…children who experienced their parents’ divorce average one to two fewer years of education attainment than children from intact homes.” (Borgatta 1992). Then children will have less of an education and will have jobs that pay less. This will put them into a lower class than of children whose parents were intact.
While going through a divorce parents need to make sure that their children’s emotional needs are being met. Also they need to listen to them and make sure they try to help them understand what the outcome will be and that things will be different once the divorce is final. This will help the children grow into better individuals.
There has always been a strong economic dimension to marriage in various cultures (McFadden 228). What happened to that? Now a numerous amount of couples are bringing their marriages to an end. The definition of marriage, stated by Henslin, is a group’s approved mating arrangements, usually marked by a ritual of some sort (445).
Marriage, in the United States, is arranged so that couples can start a family and have love and companionship. Children are brought into this type of world where marriage is something almost sacred, but this is all shattered when their parents divorce and move in their separate ways. They are forever damaged and nothing will be able to change what
they have experienced. That is why it is important for parents to open up to their children and help them physically and emotionally understand the outcome.
Bankston, Carl L. “Effects of Violence on Children.” Encyclopedia of Family Life. Salem press, Inc 1999 pp. 382.
Borgatta, Edgar F. “Concequences of Divorce: For Children.” Encyclopedia of Sociology. MacMillan Publishing Company. 1992. pp. 509-510.
Henslin, James M. 2001. Sociology: A Down to Earth Approach. 5th Ed. MA: Allyn and Bacon Publishing Co.
Leo, John. “The Sleeper Effect a New Book Ups the Price that Children Pay for Divorce.” U.S. News & World Report; Washington; Oct 2, 2000. 1 Proquest.Spokane Falls Community College Lid., Spokane, WA 30 November 2000
McFadden, Margaret. Women’s Issues. Salem Press, Inc. 1997. pp. 228
Woodward, Lianne. “Timing of Parental Separation and Attachment to Parents in Adolescence: Results of a Prospective Study from birth to Age 16.” Journal of Marriage and the Family; Minneapolis; Feb 2000; 1 Proquest.Spokane Falls Community College Lid., Spokane, WA 30 November 2000