In the United States about every other marriage ends in divorce these days. The reasons are varied, but what matters more are those directly affected, the children. Fifty percent will witness their parents’ divorce before they are adults and one of ten of those children will see it a second or even third time. We know the nature of divorce can be an ugly mess for everyone involved, but who speaks for the little guy? Most times adults will control the situation whether it is moving to another town or school, or picking the days of visitation with the other parent; all of this without any say from the child. Some aren’t so lucky. Some will be cut and dry while others like a lot of the families I babysit will be a constant battle. My first job was four years ago for a family of two girls, two boys, and a dad. They were rebellious as a lot of kids are, but very sweet when they wanted to be. In any case, I stayed with them all four years and as I watched them grow I noticed more and more how their parents’ divorce negatively affected them. The youngest was only three when I first met her, and now at the age of six and a half, she often has night terrors. She would wake up, hardly able to breathe or talk, hot, and shaking, muttering mommy, mommy. The oldest, now fifteen, was trying to stay strong for his younger siblings, though once cried in my arms for all the pressures he felt saying how he hated his life. This is a devastating time in a child’s life when their family breaks apart, and this is something no child should have to go through. No child at the age of three would be able to understand the aftermath of a divorce; four years later she still doesn’t understand. Parent’s need to take into consideration the effect their decision will have. They know their child best, though it is unpredictable how children will become of it. Some say divorce can make their children stronger, and others will say that it is the worst experience a child can go through. Every person experiences it differently and sometimes divorce is the only option. The hard truth is divorce can have a huge negative impact on children’s behavior; personality, relationships, academic achievements, and can turn into a long term dysfunction.
All children will react to divorce differently and in stages depending on age and gender. At the time of infancy, trust can be a serious issue because this stage is where the bond of trust is implemented or it is deserted. “This is one of the first things infants begin to learn. These bonds need to be formed in order for the children to feel a sense of physical comfort and to minimize fear about the future” (GSMYC). Babies would not be able to understand why there is tension, but even they can sense it. A baby under stress will see changes in eating, sleeping, and behavior patterns. The most vulnerable ages of divorce on children is early childhood, between the ages five to seven, and early adolescent, ages twelve to fourteen. According to Erik Erikson’s stages of development theory, early childhood children face the crisis of feeling guilt and inferiority. Divorce raises the probability of that and therefore the child may be susceptible to separation anxiety or feel responsible for their parents splitting up. Adolescents can be give or take because some can adapt well and even take initiative to helping out with younger siblings and housework. On the contrary, teens may be pushed onto these adult duties before they feel ready. Although adolescents are much more mature to understand and adapt, some are prone to identity confusion and it can lead to severe depression. “In order to grow emotionally and adapt socially to the changes divorce brings, they need a secure foundation in both parents’ homes. They need to feel that the ground under their feet is firm as they step off into the unknown.” (Diana). The adolescent stage is one of the most important because it is where we find out who we are and we carry that...
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