Effects of Divorce on Children and Adolescents

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Effects of Divorce on Children and Adolescents
Emme Pasuit
Education 6010
Dr. Hubbard
Fall 2008

Divorce negatively affects children and adolescents emotionally, socially and cognitively, as a result there is a profound academic impact. This impact is felt not only by the children but also the educators. It doesn't necessarily mean that children of divorced parents have different academic needs but it suggests educators need to be sensitive to the experiences of these children to help them succeed. In 2006 more than two million children experienced the turmoil and emotional intensity of their parents’ divorce. They struggled to make sense of complex events. They were forced to adapt to new environments and less nurturing and attention from their parents. Compounding evidence proves children who experience divorce fare poorly in educational attainment, economic security, and physical and psychological well-being (Anderson 2002). The number of children affected by divorce has more than tripled since 1960. Rates of divorce and remarriage (and in half of remarriages, another divorce) have soared in the United States, and the odds in the U.S. are about 50% now that a divorce will occur in a household before the children have grown up. If parents of these children re-marry the chances that the new relationship will end in divorce climbs to 67%, and 73% for a third marriage (Divorce Statistics web site). Emotionally, adolescents are exposed to many stressors of divorce. Moving, drop in household income, possible abandonment by one parent and becoming a caregiver to other siblings are emotional stressors that may effect the adolescents entire personality. Divorce had serious negative consequences on the psychological well-being of children both before and after the divorce (cited in Children of Divorce web site). Children begin to suffer the emotional aspects of divorce even before the technical state of divorce has occurred. As parents become lost in the turmoil preceding the divorce and then struggling through their own emotional issues during and post, children are given less and less attention and are required to assume much more responsibility for themselves and other siblings. Observing conflict and hostility between resident and nonresident parents also is stressful. Conflict between parents appears to be particularly harmful when children feel they are caught in the middle. It is common for children to feel angry, resentful, anxious, depressed and guilty. Some children become listless and withdrawn, quiet and moody while others become agitated, aggressive and disobedient. Many have trouble sleeping and concentrating. They are apt to express aggressive, acting out behavior and mood swings at school. These children are lonely and grieving and often feel rejected by their parents who may no longer have time for them and their feelings. It is difficult to talk about cognitive, emotional and social consequences of divorce separately because they all intertwine to affect an adolescent's entire being. The stressors that have such a profound impact on a child's emotional well-being will are not isolated from the cognitive development. In one study teachers were asked to report behavior they observed in school from children of divorce. The teachers noted “increased restlessness, daydreaming, sadness, difficulty concentrating on schoolwork, and an exaggerated need for the teacher’s attention” (Hargreaves, 1991, p. 53). Because of these emotional factors, they may be less motivated to do well in school. From a practical standpoint, if their duties at home are increased, they may have less time for schoolwork. Krein (1991) argues that the children who are most harmed are those who live in a one-parent home the longest. If the divorce occurs at an early age, the adverse academic effects are greater. A 2002 study reported in USA Today examined 10,000 adolescents...
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