Effects of Divorce on Children

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Effects of Divorce on Children
Elizabeth O’Connor
Psychology 210
Liberty University Online

Abstract
The purpose of this research paper is to examine the effects divorce has on children. This paper will look at several areas of child development and introduce some statistics on children affected by divorce. It will discuss pre and post-divorce family environments and the factors that lead to it, as well as the effects 25 years post-divorce. It will also summarize studies conducted by other researchers and present ideas found to be true from clinical interviews and following a group of children from 18 months post parental divorce to 25 years later. Other topics will include family functioning pre and post-divorce, the impact of father involvement post-divorce; as well as common behavioral issues present with children of parental divorce families. In conclusion a summary of how variations in home life, parenting style and personalities can affect the outcome of long term effects on children of parental divorce.

I. Introduction
Several studies have been conducted over the years analyzing the effects divorce has on children. This research has proved to be a valuable tool in the field of psychology. This year over one million children will experience parental divorce (Demo & Supple, 2003) and the effects can last a lifetime. Of those one million children fifty percent of them are under the age of six (Wallerstein & Lewis, 2004). II. Statistics

In the United States the divorce rate is over fifty percent (Portnoy, 2008). This means that over one half of all first marriages will end in divorce. Of the fifty percent that divorce, half to two-thirds of those adults will remarry, resulting in one in three children living with a step-parent at some time before the age of 19 (Portnoy, 2008). Half of all marriages that end in divorce involve minor children (Portnoy, 2008). Of the children currently living in the United States, 40 percent of them will experience parental divorce which will result in living (at least temporarily) in a single parent household (Portnoy, 2008). Of all these children that are experiencing parental divorce, it can be expected that one quarter of them will experience long term adjustment problems (Demo & Supple, 2003). III. Child Development

Child development can certainly play a part in how a child will handle the stress of divorce. The studies conducted by Hetherington and Kelly found five adjustment patterns to be notable of divorced children. The Competent-Opportunist group was mature children that had few behavioral issues, but did lean towards manipulation with their peer group. This group was found to be successful in early adulthood. The Competent- Caring group was made up of mostly females and tended to seek caretaking roles early in life. This group would often include children/ young adults that would seek out others they could help or “fix” in some way. The next group was labeled the Competent-at-a-Cost group. This group emerged around early adulthood and felt the need to take care of their parents. However, the inability to solve their parents’ problems plagued them with depression and low self-esteem. This group was also mostly female. The Good Enough group made up about half of the children studied. This group was comparable to the general population of children with common problems and few behavioral issues. Lastly the group labeled Aggressive-Insecure came from families of high stress and high conflict. These are the children that were neglected, and/or abused. These children had a higher risk of alcohol abuse, delinquency, and suicide than the rest of the children in the study (Portnoy, 2008). This research proved that children dealing with divorce were at a higher risk for lifelong behavioral problems and psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. Child development would be affected long-term because of the parental divorce. IV. Family...
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