Divorce and Its Effect on Children

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Divorce and its Effect on Children
Sociology 120 Wednesday
December 7, 2011

My research paper is focusing on how divorced parents affect children. I am focusing mostly on how the child is affected behaviorally, emotionally, and academically. I chose this topic not because my parents are divorced, but because I will be getting married at the end of this month and I thought this would be interesting. I believe that in many cases, divorce is not needed and that the parents should work a little harder and sacrifice to have better relationships with each other and their children. The question I want to answer is if children are affected by the divorce of their parents, and if so, how much. My hypothesis is that children of divorced parents are negatively affected behaviorally, emotionally, and academically. I felt like it was better to focus specifically on these three areas so I could better measure what it is to be negatively affected by divorce. After I first chose this topic to research and use for my paper, I started off with the general question in mind of does divorce affect children. I used the LCC library resources online to start gathering information. It was after I spent a while gathering information that I discovered that my topic was too broad and that to more effectively answer the question I was seeking, I needed to narrow down my topic. I looked at the research I had collected from online, newspaper articles, and academic journals, and found a few reoccurring themes. These themes of children of divorced parents being affected emotionally, behaviorally, and academically are the ones I would like to address in my paper. Divorce has become a very common element in today’s society. When more than half of all divorces involve children under the age of 18, divorce does not only affect the husband and wife, but now more than ever their children get mixed up in the sometimes ugly process of divorce. Every year more than one million children experience the divorce of their parents, and overall close to 40% of all children will experience parental divorce before they turn 18(Amato). Emotional damage is most likely the hardest effect to identify and diagnose with children of divorced parents because it can be hard to measure and is not something that can easily be see. An article in American Journal of Family Law entitled “The Psychological Impact of Divorce on Children: What is a Family Lawyer to do?” discusses a study that surveyed 1,000 teenagers between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. The study recorded their opinions on divorce and measured thoughts, feelings, and attitudes on the subject. Dr. Robert Gordon conducted the poll and named it the GordonPoll Youth Survey. The teenagers were asked about their parents’ arguing and 50% of the teens said it is “terrible.” When asked what the arguing consisted of, 26% said that their parents’ arguments included “criticizing the other parent.” Another 35% said that their parents’ arguing included screaming, hitting, and “throwing stuff” (Jolivet). Dr. Robert Gordon stated after the results of the poll were collected and analyzed that, "Clearly, children are more deeply bothered by parent conflict than most adults think. While very few adults would scream, hit or throw things at their spouses, most married couples would admit that they at least occasionally disagree and criticize each other in front of their children. I’d like to think that these survey results would make them think twice about that" (Jolivet). Whether the parent’s are still together and fighting, or divorced and fighting, it is clear that the children who are caught in the middle of the parents’ feud are the ones who suffer the most. This same article discuses a list of factors that researchers have compiled together to help identify a high-conflict divorce that could have a more significant impact on a child. The factors that have been identified include “criminal convictions,...
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