The Effects of Divorce on Children
From Ages 0 to 18
THE EFFECTS OF DIVORCE ON CHILDREN 2 Abstract
Each year, over 1 million American children experience the divorce of their parents. Currently in the United States, about 40% of first marriages end in divorce. In addition more than half of all divorces involve children under the age of eighteen. Substantial evidence in social science research and journals demonstrates that these children are affected mentally, emotionally, and socially and will last into adulthood. It is important to know the impact that divorce has on children. In this paper we will focus on the child’s stress in different age groups due to divorce and how they immediately react and effected. We will look into a summary of Judith Wallerstein’s twenty-five year research on divorce. We then will discuss the effects on society by the future generations of the children affected by divorce. The goal of this paper is inform, and help to better understand the different effects that divorce has on children and the seriousness of the long term impacts.
THE EFFECTS OF DIVORCE ON CHILDREN 3 Divorce can and most likely will cause mental, emotional, and social stress. Children of different age groups react and cope to this in different ways. What causes stress for the child? According to an article published by the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, there are three main stressors for the child. First, the family they have always known will be different. Second, they have some sort of loss of attachment, and third the child fears abandonment (Debord). The family will be different in many ways. One of the great fears in children is change. With divorce comes a lot of changes such as the children adjusting to new schedules, different times to do homework, mealtime, and bedtime. They might lose contact with their friends and extended family members. The children can feel a loss of attachment. Children naturally become attached to their parents, siblings, and pets. A significant change in how much contact occurs with any of these can cause distress. One of the greatest fears children have is abandonment (Debord). Children might fear that if they lost one parent, they could lose the other. They might not feel safe and worry about who will take care of them. Sometimes they might hear friends or peers experiencing divorce in their family and start fearing for themselves. With stress children in different age groups react in different ways. For infants, they don’t understand conflict, however they may react to parents energy levels. This might make them more fussy, fretful and anxious. This may give them upset stomachs and a loss of appetite. Toddlers understand that they parent has left, but doesn’t understand why. They can become clingy and worry more when a parent is out of sight. They can have problems sleeping and be more irritable. They may also regress to infant-like behaviors such as thumb sucking and returning to diapers. Preschoolers do not understand what divorce means. All they know is one parent has left and is not as active in their life. This might make them have feelings of grief due THE EFFECTS OF DIVORCE ON CHILDREN 4 to the sudden absence of the parent and might make them feel like they are being punished. This could make them feel responsible for the divorce. They could have the tendency to hold anger inside and at times become more aggressive and angry. Early elementary children begin to understand what divorce is. This could make them feel like they have been deceived and feels rejected by the parent who...