Effects of Divorce on Children Essay

This essay has a total of 1385 words and 6 pages.

Effects of Divorce on Children

The Effects of Divorce on Children

The statistics for divorce in the 1990's suggest that nearly sixty percent
of marriages end in divorce. Given this startling figure, the presumption can be made that
many children will experience some effects caused by the life-changing event called
divorce. What is it exactly about divorce that causes negative consequences for these
children? In what ways will these children be effected? Will these effects show outwardly?
The unsettling fact is: young children of divorced parents face great psychological
challenges due to the environmental conditions and changes associated with divorce
(Wolchik and Karoly 45). When we pass the year 2000, we will see two groups of working age
adults emerging. One group will have received psychological, social, economic, educational
and moral benefits and the other group will have been denied them all. The first group
will have grown up with both parents present in the house and the second group will have
not had both parents present.

Parental conflict appears to have a pronounced effect on the coping efforts of children.
The intense anxiety and anger between some parents in the early stages of divorce is real.
Often times parents allow their children to get in the middle of fierce verbal fighting
between them. Berating the other parent in front of the child is another way of placing
the child in an unfair position, which in essence is expecting the child to choose between
the parents. Any form of parental conflict, no matter to what degree, lends to a difficult
adjustment period for children involved. (Jekielek 1-3).

The deterioration in parent-child relationships after divorce is another leading cause in
psychological problems for children. With a divorce comes a parenting plan of some kind. A
child may experience shared custody between both parents or custody by one parent with
visitation by the other parent. Variations of these plans can be included or added at
different times in the child's life depending on special circumstances. More often than
not, the mother is awarded custody of the children. The absence of the father on a full
time level is detrimental to the healthy development of the children. In the case that the
father is awarded custody of the children, the opposite applies as well. Studies have
shown that a decay in custodial parent-child relationships may frequently occur in the
first year or two following divorce (Wolchik and Karoly 56-59).

Constant confusion and inconsistent parenting are supplying factors to the adaptation of
children. Consistency is the key to helping children adapt quickly with as few
psychologically traumatic scars as possible. The consistency should be practiced in every
aspect of the child's life including: eating and drinking adult foods, potty training,
sleeping in their own bed, discipline, "house rules" showing respect towards others,
sharing, and routines wake up and bed times, meal times, play times. Because parents may
have different ideas of what consistency means and how children should be raised, it is
often a difficult task for the parent to help encourage positive and progressive
development for the children.

The relationship between divorce and a drop in standards of living for female-headed
families has been documented in several studies. The connection between divorce and
financial difficulties in these households may negatively impact children's adjustment
periods. Felner and Terre (1987) conclude,

"Economic deprivation accompanying divorce may influence the child's adjustment not only
directly, by decreasing the level of

material resources available to the child, but also less directly by leading
to additional alterations such as [in] mother-child interaction patterns,
daily routines, or the quality and/or location of the child's domicile or
through contributing to the stress experienced by the custodial parent"

If divorce is so painful, why do some children flourish academically? Why do others carry
on as if nothing has happened? "The reactions a child exhibits will depend on the nature
of the child (ego strength and capacity to mobilize resources), as well as his or her age
and the relationship of the parents and child before, during, and after the divorce. Some
of the initial reactions to divorce are similar to the reactions to the death of a loved
one." It can be expected that a child going through such a traumatic event as divorce will
experience a wide range of emotions: sadness or depression, denial, embarrassment, anger,
guilt, concern about being cared for, regression, maturity, and physical symptoms (Diamond
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