Effects of a Non-Traditional Family on Children

Topics: Marriage, Divorce, Sexual intercourse Pages: 5 (1759 words) Published: April 2, 2006
Family helps mold every person into who they eventually will become. The family is a guide for the success of a child's future. The stability of family creates a building block for how the child will progress throughout life. When parents divorce, the children are left with no stability causing them to lose basic concepts of childhood that may carry with them throughout life. Children of divorced parents have less success and happiness creating less productive citizens in our nation.

Watching parents take a home from a traditional family lifestyle to a "broken" home by getting a divorce is very devastating to a child's mental well-being. As Judith Seltzer notes, "Recent reviews summarize evidence that children are emotionally distressed by parents' separation. Young children, especially, are depressed and anxious, and they feel torn by loyalties to both parents" (283). While some researchers believe "[p]arental divorce is associated with substantial short-term elevations in children's emotional distress…, [t]here is a great deal of evidence…that for some youths divorce remains problematic throughout adolescence" (Aseltine 133).

In my personal experience with parental divorce, depression was a major distress. My parents divorced when I was a junior in high school living in a small town. One month after the divorce I moved to a new city by myself for two months, and then my mother moved. I was very much without parental supervision for the rest of my life. My mother was there for me when I asked, but I took care of myself. I did not start experiencing depression until I was in college and dealing with the normal stresses of working too much, taking fifteen hours of classes, and involved in a serious relationship. These are normal stresses for the average college student, but due to built up anger and issues with asking for help, I fell into depression. The actual separation of my parents was not the exact reason I became depressed, the actual reason being that everything else changed as well as my family situation. I had to adapt to a new lifestyle, both socially and economically.

Many experts on divorce and the effects on children agree that the actual separation of parents may not be the leading factor in depression. Robert Aseltine explains, "Divorce is seen as setting off a chain of negative events and transitions that are causally related to youths' psychological distress and may be more potent stressors than the physical separation of parents" (134). My personal experience has shown that money does not last as long when only one income supports the same number of children as two incomes previously supported. Aseltine concurs by stating, "Economic hardship is…thought to play a prominent role in explaining children's distress…Disrupted families generally experience dramatic declines in standard of living…" (134). When any person goes from one standard of living to a substantially lesser standard of living in a short amount of time they will have emotional stresses that will be difficult to deal with. This will cause great stresses in their lives creating barriers toward success. Financial situations are not always the main stress factor in depression among children of divorced parents.

Depression may also be due to the sudden change of everything a child knows. Surviving divorce is like waking up to a brand new life. Some children might be intrigued by this experience of something new and exciting if they move somewhere new with one parent, whereas others are scared to death of what might happen next to change everything they know. Depression is also caused by not having as much adult supervision. The parent, whom the child is now living with, might be away from home fairly often. This can give the child a feeling of loneliness, insecurity or abandonment. As Robert Aseltine agrees, "Daily living may become unstructured and chaotic for children in divorced homes, and increasing absences of custodial parents...
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