The Implications Of Divorce On Children Under The Age of 18
Karen Ann Johnson
Divorce on children who are under the age of 18 can cause devasting results. Some children feel as though they are caught in between the love they have for both of their parents. As children are growing up, they experience many different emotions but when it comes to the experiences of divorce, a child feels as though it is their fault their parent’s marriage is falling apart. American people live in a time and age where marriage is becoming a thing of the past. The children are the individuals who suffer far more than the parents that become divorced. Children who experience the effects of divorce are left feeling emotionally unstable and insecure about whom they are. Children also experience aggression, depression, anxiety, and behavioral issues as they experience the results of parents who have become divorced. As parents, whether married, divorced, or single, we are required by God to do our very best to give our children a better life so they can impact the world in a positive manner as to honor God.
The Implications Of Divorce On Children Under The Age of 18
Every year that passes by, thousands of children in America experience their parents divorcing. Divorce can bring about irrevocable damage to everyone involved, but especially causing the most damage to the children. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, “ Divorce is the act by which a valid marriage is dissolved, usually freeing the parties to remarry (2014).” The children who experience the effects of divorce are left to feel emotionally unstable and insecure about whom they are, as well as causing them to experience aggression, depression, anxiety, and behavioral issues as the results of parents who have become divorced. Unstable Effects on the Family
Divorce not only cripples society, but also always disrupts the family and the connection between the parents and the children. It also leads to destructive behaviors from both the children and the parents. Several generations ago, the American people denounced divorce and thought it to be repugnant, but in our generation, divorce is looked upon as something most everyone does. When a family divorces, the income levels are reduced and the parents earning abilities are drastically reduced. The children are shifted back and forth between both of their parents, which causes unhealthy behavior patterns and then the child may experience feelings of anger and try acting out in aggression to those who want to help. The children from this type of family situation experience way less “emotional support, financial assistance, and practical help from either parent (Fagan & Churchill, 2012).” Dealing with Insecurity
Children who deal with their parents divorce are the ones who are caught in the middle. It seems that no matter the situation that arises, the child is always caught in the middle of their parent’s disagreements and ends up being the one who is paying a high price for the divorce. Throughout a divorce, warfare between both parents brings lesser amounts of affection, lesser amounts of attention and a higher risk of over punishing the child, “which leaves children feeling emotionally insecure (Fagan & Churchill, 2012).” The fear of rejection and lack of trust will cause children of divorced parents to shelter themselves from meaningful relationships, as they are growing older. The divorcing parents are so busy trying to inflict more pain onto each other that they lose focus of how much their child is sincerely hurting because of the selfish behavior towards one another. Parents should try to take a step back, refocus, and look at what is truly best for the family as a whole despite their differences between one another. A child needs to know that they are loved unconditionally and also that the divorce is not the fault in anyway, shape or form. Aggression Problems
For the most part, when traumatic situations occur in a child’s life, such as divorce, they are unsure as to how to handle the issues that arise between both of their parents; therefore, the child becomes very aggressive in actions towards others. “High conflict between parents following divorce can be traumatic, destroying, and extremely stressful for children and adolescents and it is also the most significant factors for children and adolescents’ behavior problems (Esmaeili, 2011).” Because the child may lack the attention he or she needs from both parents, the child may take things that do not belong to them, display poor actions in school or cause heated arguments between the parents as a way to get the much needed attention. The conflict issues between the parents may cause the parent and child relationship to dwindle to the point that the parents are unable to see or respond to their child’s emotional need that is caused by the horrible affects of the divorce. Sometimes a child will act out in whatever way necessary for affection but in the end, the child only causing more self-suffering. When issues like this occur, parents need to seek counseling to quickly help resolve the situation. In cases of Christian families who are dealing with the effects of divorce, the best person to seek counseling from would be from the Lord. Prayer should be an important factor when a Christian family is dealing with issues that come from divorce. Feelings of Depression
The degree and emotion for which conflicts arises between parents who were once married but now have divorced, is an indicator for much conflictive situations, hostility and distress which leads to depression in a child. When a child has to listen and hear their parents continual fighting and yelling, the child develops feelings of sadness, which can lead to depression. Depression as well as anxiety can cause sever health issues in children who are having a difficult time trying to deal with their parents divorce and trying to dealing with the corrupted attitudes of the once loving parents. Effects of Anxiety
Children already learn to deal with a lot of different situations as they are growing up but when their once joyful and happy home becomes disrupted by the divorce, they are unsure what they should do. The anxiety that is caused by worrying if the child should show too much love or affection to one parent over the other parent, can lead to panic attacks, which cause other health concerns for a child. Some children who experience their parents divorcing are able to cope and handle the situation completely fine, but most of the children who experience their parents divorcing have a very hard time handling the effects from the divorce, and end up suffering with anxiety. Other factors that can cause anxiety in a child’s life can be the loss of a father figure in the home, spending less quality-time with their mom or dad, having to move to a poor neighborhood, or spending a lot of time with a babysitter because the parent who has custody is required to work long hours to be able to make ends meet. For a young child experiencing the separation and later divorce of their parents, the departure of one of their parents from the household may cause events that produce a considerable amount of anxiety (Amato, 2000). Behavioral Problems
When parents play an active part in their child’s upbringing, there are fewer chances for major behavioral problems. When parents split up, the child experiences many different emotions as they go through the effects of the divorce. Some children become reserved and withdrawn, not knowing what is going on except that mom or dad no longer lives in the same home with them. Peer pressure can have a negative or positively tremdeous effect on a child growing up but the hardship of a divorce can mentally and physically leave a lasting effect on a child. Children act out for various reasons. When a child experiences less than usual attention from his or her parents, this can cause a child to act out in overwhelming ways. For example, a child who gets plenty of positive attention from their parents may act out in a silly manner, which is normal for the most part, but a child who does not receive the right kind of attention becomes mean, rude and often when they are older decide to try drugs, alcohol or attempt suicide. According to Bonnie Erbe, “children with divorced parents are at an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and especially vulnerable to the effects of marital breakups (2011).” Several studies have shown that “divorced custodial parents, compared with married parents, invest less time, are less supportive, have fewer rules, dispense harsher discipline, provide less supervision, and engage in more conflict with their children (Amato, 2000).” No matter if a child is raised by a hard working single parent, parental shared custody, or a devoted married couple, every child born on this planet deserves to be raised with plenty of love, care and joy. Every child growing up will experience some time or another parents who have disagreements. Children are a blessing from the Lord and should be raised in such a way as to honor the Lord and to make a huge positive impact on this planet for future generations to come. Conclusion
Though many children experience their parents divorcing, some fair well, while others do not fair so well. Divorce in a family can bring so many different changes and damage the relationship of all who are involved. Although children who go through the effects of divorce experience many hardships, parents who are committed to the well being of their child can make a huge impact in a positive manner, despite the breakup and divorce of the marriage. Divorce should not mean the end of a once happy and joyful family. Instead, both parties should work together for the common good of the family unit. When the two parents work together, despite the divorce, it can reduce the effects of unstableness, insecurity, depression, suicidal thoughts or actions, anxiety and behavioral issues in the lives of their precious children. The marriage may have been dissolved but that does not mean the child-parent relationship has to become dissolved as well. Children are our future generation, and as parents, married or divorce, we are required by God to step up and do our very best so that we can impact the world for the Lord Almighty, through the lives of our precious children.
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