The Impact of Divorce on Children

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The impact of divorce on children
Angela Smith
PSYC 210
James Varland
Liberty University

The impact of divorce on children
The days of complete families that include mom, dad, the household pet, and several children hardly exist. These families have now been replaced with an increasing number of single parent households due to the increasing divorce rate since the 1970’s. (Price & McKenry, 1988) What kind of impact does divorce play on children under the age of 18 years old today. As we journey into this research, we will see many things that effect children not only emotionally, but spiritually, physically, and mentally. Each of these problems can carry over to adulthood. What we may not realize is that divorce could affect everything up into adulthood of a child. Emotional scars could be left for life. The children are the ones that are left to suffer the most due to divorce.

There is so much research on this topic. That alone shows that children are suffering in so many ways due to divorced parents. Divorce is a very stressful experience for any child, regardless of their age. Over half of American children will witness the breakup of a parent’s marriage. Among the millions of children who have seen their parents divorce, did you know that one in ten children will also go through three or more parental marriages? (The Abolition of Marriage, Gallagher) The death of a parent is less devastating on a child than a divorce. There are several areas and stages of pain that is dealt with within a child at the beginning of a divorce. They feel very vulnerable, they feel powerless over the situation, and they have feelings of anger and of course several feeling of guilt. Parents’ sensitivity to their child’s needs has to be a priority in the adjustment of the divorce. Then you need to consider the child’s age also. A preschooler’s reaction and an adolescent’s reaction will be very different from each other. Preschooler’s tend to be emotionally needy. They have fears related to abandonment, and may display acting-out behaviors. They are likely to become distressed during visit exchanges. ( Children from ages 6 to 8 will likely fantasize about their parents but yet are less likely to blame themselves for the divorce. Then children ages 9 to 12 will have a better understanding of their parents divorce and the situation but yet may take the sides with one of the parents. Although adolescents understand and comprehend the divorce of their parents, they are faced with the divorce experience and also their own identities. Adolescents seem to mature more quickly after a divorce. They will take on more responsibilities at home; they learn to appreciate things like an allowance a lot more, and they also learn to gain insight into relationships with others. But on the other hand, they could be drawn into taking on the role of the parent and not be able to develop relationships with their own peers.

According to research, there are many different approaches that you could take when talking to your children about the divorce. There are definitely ways of saying things at their level and ways to try and make it easier on that individual child. One thing that you have to remember is that there is no best age for a child for divorcing parents. One main thing that you have got to be sure and tell your child is that it isn’t their fault. Children seem to think, especially the younger ones that if I act better or get better grades in school, maybe mommy and daddy won’t be mad at me and leave me. Letting that child know that it isn’t their fault is very crucial for the child. It is very important to let that child know that both parents will still be a part of their lives. When talking to your child about the divorce, you need to keep your emotions under control. If the child sees that you are upset, that will also make them upset and the whole situation...
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