December 9, 2011
The Life That Once Was
Sixty years ago, the United States was bursting at the seams that post-World War Two fears had sewn into place. The economy was booming, automobile production was taking off, families were close-knit, and values were important. There was a certain mystery and adventure about what life had in store. Now, the United States is on the verge of a breakdown. The economy is teetering on the edge of failure, more families are broken than ever before, and the values and principles that the country was founded on have been thrown out the window. Many argue that today’s American life is better than that of sixty years ago due to technological and medicinal advancements, but the facts of rising divorce rates, stressful fast-paced lives, and the state of the economy beg to differ. In 1950s America, divorce wasn’t a common occurrence. Most children grew up in homes with both a mother and a father, a home life vital for the well-being and proper development of children. This low rate of divorce remained unchanging during the 1950s and 1960s and radically rose during the late 1960s and 1970s to the rate it is today (Amato). In 2009, between 43% and 50% of first marriages end in divorce, and half of America’s children will experience their parents’ divorce (Lansford 140). It is well known that divorce has quite a negative effect on children, and with half of America’s children coming from divorced families, America is becoming a broken nation. In some cases, even divorce is better for children than living in the conflicted home of arguing parents. According to Lansford, “children whose parents divorce may have better long-term adjustment than do children whose parents remain in high-conflict marriages if divorce enables children to escape from exposure to conﬂict and feelings of being caught between their parents” (Lansford 145). Escape from the verbal, emotional, and physical abuse is a better option for any child, even if it comes through the divorce of their parents. Unfortunately, the only way out of many broken family situations is divorce, which still has a lasting effect on children and parents alike. Many children from divorced families feel their parents divorced because of them and live with that sense of guilt for the rest of their lives. This is the world Americans know now, but it wasn’t always this way. In the 1950s, children were allowed by society to be children: to go to school and come home and play with their friends and listen out for their father coming home and their mother’s voice calling them inside for dinner. Today, half of America’s children are forced to go through the emotional pain and stress of the divorce involving two people that are supposed to remain together and raise them. In addition to emotional hardships, divorce brings economic strain as well. Most children of divorced families live with single mothers after the divorce. These single mothers do not have the income they did before the divorce, and because of this change in finances, many of these single-mother families are in a worse housing situation than before the divorce, along with neighborhoods and schools. This negative economic change “can lead to behavioral and emotional problems in children” (Lansford 144). Because of the divorce of their parents, many children are robbed of the nurturing and education they need simply because of the area in which their parent’s lack of finances forces them to live. The environment in which a child lives shapes a child almost as much as parental guidance, and in today’s America, they aren’t getting adequate amounts of either form of growth. Since 1950 and the gradual shift of the working world of America, the pursuit of success has been the major stressor in more and more working Americans with every passing year. Spending time with family is an important aspect of life that many children,...