Elizabeth Seckler for Laurie Bulock
FST 602 (Human Development Across the Lifespan)
October 27, 2011
“I do”. Two small words with such a big meaning. Although fewer individuals are marrying today, nearly 90% of Americans will eventually “tie the knot” (Goldstein and Kenney, as cited by Cherlin, 2011, pg. 300). However, the meaning of marriage is appearing to lose its effect on individuals, as divorce has become epidemic in the United States (Hoelter, as cited by Santrock, 2011, pg. 459). Since 1960, the divorce rate has varied through the years, increasing considerably from 1960 to 1980, then gradually declining from the early 1980s to 2005, but recently increasing from 2005 to 2007 (Popenoe, as cited by Santrock, 2011, pg. 459). Divorce is a major disruption in the family life-cycling process, adding complexity to whatever developmental tasks the family member is experiencing in its present phase (Peck and Manocherian, 1988, pg. 335). The negative impact of divorce is so strong that children of divorced parents struggle as adults to create a positive, healthy family environment for their own children. All too often, adults who experienced divorce as children prove less capable of breaking the cycle and instead pass on a legacy of tragedy to their children and their children’s children (Fagan and Rector, 2000, pg.17). Therefore, divorce does not just impact the individual at the time of the dissolution. Instead, divorce negatively impacts an individual in every stage of life.
Of the stages of development across the lifespan, it may appear that infants are the least affected by divorce. However, while babies may not understand anything about separation or divorce, they do notice changes in their parents’ response to them, which impacts future development. According to psychoanalytic theorist, Erik Erikson, who developed eight stages of human development, the first
References: Cherlin, A. J. (2011). The deinstitutionalization of American marriage. In A. Guest (Ed.), Taking Sides: Clashing views in life span development (3rd ed., pp. 294-307). New York: McGraw-Hill Fagan, P.F., & Rector R. (2000). The effects of divorce on America (Research Report No. 1373). Retrieved from the Heritage Foundation website: http://www.heritage.org/library/ backgrounder/bg1373.html Institute for American Values. (2011). Why marriage matters, thirty conclusions from the social sciences . New York: Institute for American Values. Peck, J.S. & Manocherian, J.R. (1988). Divorce in the changing family life cycle. In B. Carter and M. McGoldrick (Ed.), Changing family life cycle: a framework for family therapy (2nd ed., pp. 335-369). Prentice Hall College Div Rhodes, J.L. (2000, Winter). The impact of divorce across the developmental stages. Paradigm, winter 2000. Retrieved from http://www.sequeltsi.com/files/library/The_Impact_of_ Divorce_on_Development.pdf Santrock, J.W. (2011). Life-span development (13th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Wallerstein, J.S., Lewis, J.M., and Blakeslee, S. (2000). The unexpected legacy of divorce. New York: Hyperion