Wayland Baptist University
Parental divorce can result in devastating effects on children. These children suffer tremendous long-term consequences as a result of an event that is not their doing. This paper reviews literature and opinions concerning the long-term effects of divorce on adolescents. The paper outlines four major areas of interest: aggression as a result of parental conflict and the different types associated with boys and girls, depression in the lives of boys and girls in its various forms, the choice boys and girls make to marry or not later in life and the possibility of adolescents expressing parental alienation. The results of this study show that these adolescent boys and girls are affected by their parents divorce in all these areas. In addition to presenting the different findings, the paper will help parents, community workers and others that work with children of divorced parents better understand the importance these long-term effects has on adolescents.
Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Adolescent Boys and Girls
There is much interest among clinicians, researchers, practitioners, policy makers, and the community concerning the effects of divorce on children [ (Amato, 2001) ]. When children are involved in a divorce it can cause the child to have poor educational success, psychological suffering, misbehavior with the increased possibility of recidivism, substance abuse, sexual activity, depression, and suicidal tendency [ (Dreman, 2000; Portnoy S. M., 2008; Wauterickx, Gouwy, & Bracke, 2006; Kelly & Emery, 2003; Bulduc, Caron, & Logue, 2007) ]. Children of divorced parents, according to Portnoy [ (2008, p. 127) ], “exhibits particularly difficulties in their adult intimate relationships, including lower levels of marital satisfaction, more marital discord, more thoughts of divorce and more divorce.” Research supports the philosophy that all children are directly affected by the divorce process [ (Pryor & Pattison, 2007; Wauterickx, Gouwy, & Bracke, 2006; Portnoy S. M., 2008; Storksen, Roysamb, Holmen, & Tambs, 2006) ]. Divorce is never a pleasant experience especially for the children involved. It causes much heartache and pain oftentimes seen in the child’s behavior but at other times hidden. There is much to be learned by parents, teachers, counselors and others that work with children of divorced parents. Some effects of divorce come and go but others linger into adulthood. The objective here is to look at the long-term effects of divorce on the adolescent boys and girls. It is the intent of this study to look at how aggression, depression, the fear of marriage and parental alienation all relate to the adolescent boys and girls who were victims of parental divorce. Aggression is a long-term effect of parental divorce that surfaces in both adolescent boys and girls [ (Dreman, 2000) ]. Aggression is defined as “any physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt or destroy” [ (Myers, 2008, p. 551) ]. Adolescent boys seem to display more physical aggressive behavior than girls [ (Portnoy S. M., 2008; Dreman, 2000; Wauterickx, Gouwy, & Bracke, 2006; Amato, 2001; Hines, 2007; Cummings, Goeke-Morey, & Papp, 2004; Sarrazin & Cyr, 2007) ]. According to Dreman [ (2000) ] this is because boys are exposed to more parental conflict than girls. Girls on the other hand resort more to social and relational aggression, which will be discussed more in detail later. Research suggests that the cause of aggression is that the conflict between parents are often too stressful for adolescents to handle [ (Dreman, 2000; Çivitci, Çivitci, & Fiyakali, 2009; Erwin, 2006) ]. Adolescents often seem to get trapped in the middle of the conflict hence the increased problem of aggression [ (Sarrazin & Cyr, 2007) ]. Girls “tend to internalize their problems” more than boys...