Affects on Children of Divorced Parents The topic of the term paper is children of divorced parents. We will look at how divorce affects children from a variety of age groups and genders as well as how they are affected during and after the divorce. There is not a lot of history of research and study surrounding this particular topic. Most has been within the past two decades. Which make sense, since the divorce rate has skyrocketed in very recent history.
We will start by examining the affects that the actual divorce process has on children. During this traumatic time, children will tend to pick up on all of the negative behaviors that the parents are exuding. Parental discord can actually be more disturbing to a child than parental nonexistence through the divorce. Parental conflict plays a key role in the child’s well being. The effects of marital disturbance on children vary according to the amount of marital conflict that existed prior to the divorce.
Part of the reason that for the above is that parents occupied in conflicts are less reliable in the discipline they provide, and they have distorted bonds of a connection with their children, therefore they serve as models for harmful behavior for their children, which then puts the children under emotional and cognitive strain. For some children this can cause immediate negative effects, which can include inferior emotional adjustment, and becoming more anxious.
Also children experiencing their parents discord can become more likely to exhibit signs of disinterest in school than those who are in a lower conflict family. Marital disturbance appears to be linked with behavioral and affective changes, rather than with changes in more cognitive phenomena like aspirations and grades. Children of divorced parents have reported that the parents tend to have a lower educational expectation of them. Whereas when they were in a united state, it would not be ok for a child to just do average or below average.
Along with this there is a noted decrease in monitoring of school and social activities. This typically happens more so of the father than the mother. As the divorce progresses and the family separates, the trouble with school can also extend from the financial difficulties the single parent inherits when divorced. For example, income differences account for between 30 and 50 percent of the overall difference in high school graduation rates. Also, with the decrease in income, this can cause residential mobility which then disrupts the children’s social ties, and academic activities.
In earlier years when the divorce rate sky-rocketed to an all-new high it was usually the mother that always received primary guardianship over the child or children and the fathers typically only had minimal visitation, usually 4 times a month. Back then father’s were believed to have more of a “minor” role in the lives of the children. They went by a Psychoanalytic theory that basically stated the exclusive importance of the mother was detrimental in early child development and focused exclusively on the mother and children and what harm was caused if there was early separation between them.
There was also a belief that the children would be harmed psychologically if they had more than one home. Though over the past 30 years the outcome of custody arrangements hasn’t changed much and the mother typically receives primary care giver status, it has been shown that it is much more helpful in the short and long term for the child if both the mother and the father can share custody as well as functions with everyday life, rules, school functions and so on. Sometimes fathers will automatically fail to maintain a good relationship with their children and sometimes it is for other reasons.
They either re- marry and have more children and or there is too much conflict and tension between the father and the mother. Another culprit is the fact that “mothers have reported interfering with or sabotaging visits between 25% and 35% of the time. ” Maternal antagonism has been linked to less paternal attachment subsequent to a divorce. Children that are in conflict-free (or low conflict) situations with divorced parents appear to flourish as long as they have sufficient parenting in both homes and there is joint parental decision making.
Studies showed that half of children and youngsters have a desire for more contact with their fathers. Relocation of the child can also be harmful to their relationships and growth. The risk of adjustment, social and scholastic problems is twice as great for children of divorce compared to those who parents are still married. This all seems to have the worst affect on adolescents. Effects of a high conflict in marriage and in the divorce can and will visibly affect children 12-22 years after the divorce.
There will be poor relationships with their parents, overall bad attitudes and behavior, and more often than not they will receive some sort of psychological help. There is a greater risk of long-term affects the younger the child is when the parents are divorced. The children’s social and emotional development is most at risk at later ages when the parental divorce occurs before the age of six. Furthermore, daughters will have more poor relationships with their mothers than sons will later on in life. 29% of women with divorced parents had poor relationships with their mothers while only 19% of men did.
There are some interesting differences in the effects on boys and girls following their parents divorce. Typically a girl’s self esteem declines less that a boy’s self-esteem. This is something I never would have guessed. Marital disruption will lower a boy’s math and reading performances, which is not the case for girls. Also, boys’ have a higher drop out rate and behavior problems than girls. In addition, children of divorce, predominantly boys, evidenced higher frequencies of dependency, discourteous talk, withdrawal, blaming, as well as carelessness, decreased work ethic, inappropriate behavior, unhappiness and maladaptive symptoms.
Usually girls’ difficulties occur preceding the divorce and don’t change substantially after the divorce, while boy’s difficulties increased after the divorce, mainly for substance abuse. For girls, they will manifest distress in ways that are more complicated to observe, like by becoming extra anxious, depressed, or exhibiting over controlled “good” behavior. After the divorce when parents tend to move, this can be a very critical time for the child. Depending on the age at the time they can either see effects from this immediately or later in the child’s development.
When parents move more than an hour away from one another is when it tends to affect the children the most. Students from families where one parent has moved typically received less financial support and they worried more about this support and felt more aggression in their interpersonal relations. They also suffered more distress related to the parent’s divorce and perceived their parents less positively as sources of emotional support and role models. The students also thought that the quality of their parents’ relationships with one another to be worse.
All of this made them rate themselves to have a less physically healthy life, less general life satisfaction, and less ability to adjust personally and emotionally. I can certainly relate to all of the above as I have been there myself. The following is a little taste of the reasons I chose the affects of divorce on children for my research paper topic. I come from divorced parents, who have been divorced yet again from their second marriages. As well, I have stepchildren of my own.
Since I was old enough to think logically I have analyzed the whys and how’s of my parents divorce and the affects that I felt from it from when I was little all the way until now. My parents had a very long, drawn out divorce where there was a custody battle. I was quite small then, only 3 when they started the process, however I can remember quite clearly some of the awful arguments and hurtful words that were said, unfortunately mostly by my mother. I was one of the many that my mother got custody of me and I had visitation with my father. I was to see him every Wednesday evening and every other weekend.
This continued for a short time, but then our time together became less and less until eventually the only time I saw him was maybe twice a year. The separation from my father did have effects but not until later on in life. I became jealous of his relationship with my half-sisters and I had resentment that he never made sure that he was a permanent fixture in my life. However, once I was on my own and started becoming more independent, I started having a much better relationship with my father, and now that we both work at the airport I get to see him much more often.
However, one of the reasons, I believe, that I married someone 16 years my senior was because I didn’t have my father around growing up. That would be my simple psychoanalytic theory. However, going through all of this with my parents and seeing the effects that it has on so many different people, but especially the children involved, I vowed a long time ago, when I was still in single digits, that I would never put my child through this. That I would cherish the bond of marriage and what that meant and hopefully bring back some of the good ole days where people stayed married. Works Cited 1. Kelly, Joan B. Children’s Living Arrangements Following Separation and Divorce: Insights From Emperical and Clinical Research”. Family Process. 2006: Volume 46 No. 1 2. Rodriguez, Hilda, and Chandler Arnold. “Children of Divorce: A Snapshot”. July 21, 2008. http://www. clasp. org/publications/children_and_divorce. htm. 3. “Relocation of Children After Divorce and Children’s Best Interests: New Evidence and Legal Considerations,” Sanford L. Braver, Ira M. Ellman, Berkeley and William V. Fabricius; Journal of Family Psychology, Vol. 17, No. 2. 4. Bryant, Michelle. “The Divorce Dilemma”. July 21, 2008. http://utexas. edu/features/2006/divorce/index. com.