Divorce: Effects on Children
Divorce has become an unquestionable remedy for the miserably married. Currently, the United States has the highest divorce rate in the world. Every year in the US approximately one million children experience divorce which, is about one in every three children (Amato 21). The effects of divorce can be tremendously painful for both children and adults. Children of divorce are more likely to suffer from behavioral, social, academic, and psychological problems than children raised in two-parent families. The actual separation of the family will be the initial crisis that a child must deal with but many issues such as economic hardship, moving, and other major issues may follow. Sarah McLanahan, a leading divorce researcher at Princeton University, has identified moving as one of the most damaging effects of divorce for children. That is because the children lose invaluable ties to friends that may be able to help them cope with the new stress they are faced with. McLanahan and Gary Sandefur conclude that up to 40% of the increased risk of being a high school drop out is attributed to moving as a result of divorce (Chira 01E). The short term effects or divorce vary depending on the age and sex of most children. Boys and girls handle the break-ups with different emotions for example, some get angry, some feel sad, and some may experience feelings of rejection. Preschool age children, ages three to five, many times react with feelings of anger and sadness. Many of the preschool age children will regress after the initial shock of the separation. Signs of regression could be once again asking for a security blanket, bedwetting, returning to thumb sucking, needing help feeding themselves, or hitting their siblings. The children in this age group are more anxious and insecure than a child growing up in a two-parent home (Teyber 11). The majority of the children in the preschool age-group have abandonment issues and fear that since one parent has left the home that the other may move out as well. As the children get older the effects the divorce has on them is different but no less traumatizing.
School aged children between the ages of six to eight seem to have an especially difficult time dealing with their parents splitting up. Generally, the boys in this age group tend to be more bothered than the girls. Sadness is the primary reaction of the children in this age group. There will be more out bursts of crying, and these children are prone to feeling that the departing parent is rejecting them. Many children of this age group try to reconcile the marriage and spend more time worrying about the family than anything else. Often their performance in school drops considerably due to the worrying and the lowered self-esteem, which is caused by the feelings of rejection. Younger children have strong feelings of sadness where as, older school-aged children aging from nine to twelve tend to channel their feelings through anger. Many boys in this age group become rebellious and uncontrollable. Also, it is not uncommon for them to reject visits from the out-of-home parent. Many times during divorce these children will takes sides and be put in the middle of destructive battles. In addition to feeling angry, many of the children appear sad and even lonely. Feeling helpless is another factor that effects these children, often times they feel like they have no control over their own lives. Fueled by anger and feelings of powerlessness, about half of the students in this age group show some type of decline in their schoolwork (Teyber 12). Often, these children will also experience physical effects as well as the emotional effects. Headaches and stomachaches will be common occurrences and, many of these children will begin having a hard time getting along with their friends. There are considerably stronger gender differences in the school age children than the preschool and younger children. Boys are more...
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