Divorce and Children, Affects of By: Joy Parr The Affects of Divorce on Children As a child, there are many things that affect a view, memory, opinion, or attitude. Children have many of their own daily struggles to cope with, as peer pressures are an example. As an adult, we sometimes forget what it is like to be a child dealing with some of the childhood pressures. Many parents do not realize how something like divorce could possibly affect their children as much as it does themselves. As the case may be, children are strongly affected by divorce. Some react differently than do others, but all experience some kind of emotional change. Exposure to a highly stressful major life change event on children, which may overwhelm children's coping capacity, and thus compromising favorable adjustments (Garmezy, Masten, & Tellegen, 1984; Gersten, Langner, Eisenberg, & Simcha-Fagan, 1977; Rutter, 1983). Research has indicated that this is particularly true for children in the circumstances surrounding parental divorce, and in the immediate aftermath (see reviews by Emery, 1982, 1988; Hetherington & Camara, 1984). Compared to children of intact families, many children of recently divorced families are reported to demonstrate less social competence, more behavioral problems, more psychological distress, and more learning deficits (Amato & Keith, 1991a; Hetherington, 1972; Hetherington, Cox, & Cox, 1979, 1982; Peterson & Zill, 1983, 1986; Wallerstein & Kelly, 1980), and are over-represented in referrals to clinical services (Guidubaldi, Perry, & Cleminshaw, 1984; Kalter, 1977). Further, an accumulating body of evidence from longitudinal studies of divorce supports continuity of negative affects beyond the 2-year postdivorce crisis period in a substantial minority of children and adolescents (Guidubaldi & Perry, 1984, 1985; Hetherington & Anderson, 1987; Hetherington & Clingempeel, 1992; Hetherington, Cox, & Cox, 1985, 1987, 1991), as well as the reemergence or emergence of problematic behavior in adolescents who had previously recovered from or adjusted well to parental divorce (Hetherington, 1991a). Moreover, reports of long-term negative outcomes in offspring beyond the adolescent period suggest that the ramifications of parental divorce on adult behavior may be even more deleterious than those on child behavior (Amato & Keith, 1991b; Zill, Morrison, & Coiro, 1993). The evidence appears to be quite convincing that dissolution of two-parent families, though it may benefit spouses in some respects (Hetherington, 1993), may have farreaching adverse effects for many children. The divorce and family systems literatures indicate that negative family processes may be more important predictors of poor adjustment in children than family structure (Baumrind, 1991a. 1991b; O'Leary & Emery, 1984). Interparental conflict, for example, is associated with adjustment disturbances in children in both divorced and nondivorced families (Camara & Resnick, 1988; Johnston, Campbell, & Mayes, 1985; Peterson & Zill, 1986; Reid & Crisafulli, 1990), and is considered to be a critical mediator of divorce effects in children and adolescents (Atkeson, Forehand, & Rickard, 1982; Emery, 1982; Forehand, Long, & Brody, 1988; Luepnitz, 1979). In addition, the stress associated with shifting family roles and relationships in newly divorce families contribute to a breakdown in effective parenting practices, which in turn influences adjustment outcomes in children. Decreased levels of warmth, support, tolerance, control, and monitoring, and increased levels of punitive erratic discipline among recently divorced mothers have been related to problematic adjustment in children (Bray, 1990; Brody & Forehand, 1988; Maccoby, Buchanan, Mnookin, & Dornbusch, 1993). Furthermore, long-term studies of divorce suggest that negative family processes and concomitant stressors may be in operation well after the divorce has occurred, and may become exacerbated when offspring enter...
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