Effects of Divorce on Children

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Does Divorce Have Long-Term Damaging Effects on Children?
With the significant number of marriages ending in divorce these days, it is important to analyze the impact of these dissolving unions on the children involved. With the current divorce rate slowing heading towards half of all marriages, this issue impacts the lives of almost everyone in the country. Divorces are reported about in the news and tabloids, politicians use it as a platform for policy change, and psychologists point to it to explain problems in their clients psyche. Our modern society was based on the foundation of a stable family unit that provided emotional and economic support, promoted socialization, and instilled positive values and attitudes in their children. While divorce does not mean that children will not be well adjusted and contributing members to society, it may inhibit or modify the ideals, values and goals of the future generations. (Finsterbusch, 2012)

Elizabeth Marquardt believes that divorce impacts children in a negative and damaging way and that those who seek to paint divorce in a positive light are pandering to the adults in order to justify their decision to divorce and make them feel better about it. Marquardt holds a Masters Degree in Divinity, a M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in History and Women’s Studies from Wake Forest University. She is also the Vice President for Family Studies and Director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values in New York City.

Marquardt relates her own experiences with divorce, growing up in a divorced family, how it affected her life and how she defines a “relationship” after having to adjust to all the changes that a divorce brings. She presents many opinions and shows faults in the research by Dr. Ahrons, but doesn’t provide many facts. Her position is that Dr. Ahrons has misinterpreted the data that she collected and asked her subjects questions that evoked the responses that she wanted to support her claims. Marquardt explains her theory on the impacts of divorce by describing her own experiences and relating to those in Dr. Ahrons study. She points out problems with Ahrons version of the responses and why the subjects gave the answers they gave. She describes the problem with the finding that a majority of people raised in divorced families do not wish that their parents were still together below, “Ahrons did not ask whether as children these young people had hoped their parents would reunite. Instead, she asked if they wish today that their parents were still together. She presents their negative answers as gratifying evidence that divorce is affirmed by children. But is that really the right conclusion to draw?” (Marquardt, 2005) She goes on to describe the scenario without any facts, just possibilities, but shows how the data is flawed by relating the following, “…some interviewer on the telephone asks if you wish your parents were still together today. A lifetime of pain and anger and adjustment flashes before your eyes. Any memory of your parents together as a couple—if you can remember them together at all—is buried deep under all those feelings. Your divorced parents have always seemed like polar opposites to you. No one could be more different from your mother than your father, and vice versa. “No,” you reply to the interviewer, “I don’t wish my parents were still together.” (Marquardt, 2005) This shows how the information from a survey can be interpreted differently and why data like this is difficult to define.

She goes on to explain how Dr. Ahrons claims that children in the study believe they are better off, or not affected, by the divorce is fundamentally wrong. Those children have been raised in the climate where complaining kids were not appreciated and kids that seemed agreeable to the change were praised. This teaches children that to get along and receive positive...
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