Negative Impacts of Divorce

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Varying Negative Impacts of Divorce and Their Lasting Effects on Children

Ashley Garrett
Sociology 1301
Professor Henderson
November 27, 2010

Varying Negative Impacts of Divorce and Their Lasting Effects on Children Countless research studies have been conducted on divorce for example, California family law and the no-fault divorce law. Ironically there was no consideration on how it would have a negative lasting impact on children. Judith Wallerstein (2002) suggest that “It's a major part of history that shows how little we consider the impact of so much of legislation and so much of social change on the family and especially on children, who unfortunately don't vote”(para1). In order to understand how divorces can have a lasting negative impact on children it should be studied focusing on how divorce makes children insecure, how children can feel afraid of loss, and the effect of their childhood. This paper examines Wallersteins’ research on the negative emotional effects on the children of the married couple.

The marital relationship, or in today’s society, the lack thereof, is the first relationship that a child witnesses. At home is where a child learns manners, most basic beliefs, and of course, first lessons in love. Drawing on common phrases such as “A father is his daughter’s first boyfriend” to the most recent psychological studies, it has been proven that in the home is where a child has their first account of any type of “man-woman” relationship. By witnessing the relationship his or hers between parents, a child will gain an idea of what he or she wants, or does not want, out of their own relationship. Although studies have also shown that some women follow in the cycle of choosing physically or verbally abusive mates, there is also a likely hood of a child raised in that same type of family environment deciding to break the cycle of abuse within their own personal adult relationships. But even if the parent’s marital relationship is not abusive, albeit dysfunctional as it must be to warrant divorce, it is the child’s first blueprint to a family unit, and as such, the child is likely to build his or hers own family in the same fashion. Although the marital relationship is the most common relationship pattern studied in the case of emotional damage to children of divorced parents, there are many other relationships that change within the family unit negatively impacting the children of divorced parents, the most pertinent of those relationships include: the parent-child relationships, the sibling relationships if more than one child is in the home, and most importantly the child’s relationship with his or herself. In the parent-child relationship, there is an undeniable bond between the child and each parent. A mother-child relationship is usually one of unconditional love and devotion, along with a maturing and ever-changing friendship as the child grows. In a father-child relationship, there is a sense of security, love and friendship that also grows with the child. When parents divorce and the family unit is broken for whatever reason, the child or children in the home are usually the last to know. In Wallerstein’s (2008) article she states “The children had a sense of loss, and anger at their parents. Their great fear was that they would be abandoned….They was overwhelmed with frightening fantasies that had to do with the fear that the scaffolding of their lives was collapsing under them” (para4). Most children of divorced parents also feel inadequate, or that in some way, they are responsible for the divorce. This feeling is magnified if step-parents are introduced and new siblings come along.

Wallerstein (2008) also states that “almost all…of the children of divorce, as adults, suffered with a residue of symptoms in which they were afraid that disaster would strike suddenly, unaware. The happier they were, the better their life, the better...
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