Does Divorce of Parents Harm Children?

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Divorce has become prevalent, but what are its effects on children? Many researchers began studying this question in the 1970s, and they have learned a great deal about children and divorce. One thing researchers have learned is that we must distinguish between children's initial or short-term reactions to marital disruption and their long-term (more than two years) adjustment. Children's long-term reactions vary greatly, depending on how the parents respond to the child during and after the breakup. In particular, the most important factors that shape long-term adjustment are (1) the amount of parental conflict children are exposed to and (2) the quality of parenting or childrearing competence they receive. In addition to these two factors, children's reactions are affected by social or environmental factors such as living in a neighborhood with high crime and violence. Economic factors are an important aspect of divorce, as most single-parent mothers have more economic stress and can provide fewer resources and opportunities for their children following divorce. Economic stress leads to increasing family mobility and an unwanted decrease in kinship networks and family support systems. This becomes especially problematic when it deprives families of grandparents and other kin who can help parents cope in the aftermath of divorce. Yes: Judith S. Wallerstein, from “Growing up in the divorced family” Clinical Social Work Journal (Winter 2005) Clinical psychologist Judith Wallerstein argues not only that children are harmed when their parents’ divorce but also that these negative side effects continue into their adult lives. Wallerstein claims that adolescents of divorce families often become involved with drugs, alcohol, and sexual activity earlier than adolescents of intact families. And once they are adults, she claims that these children suffer from acute anxiety when attempting to love and form permanent relationships. Parent- Child...
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