Table of Contents
Among couples with children, the rates of divorce tend to be as much as forty percent higher than among those couples without children. The effects of divorce on children tend to vary depending on the strengths of family bonds and the upbringing that the parents exposed their children to prior to getting divorced. With current predictions betting that about one half of all first marriages in the U.S are likely to end up in divorce or separations, divorce has become one of the major social problems in the nation. In the case of second and subsequent marriages, as Hetherington (62) points out, the chances of breakage are even higher. In this research essay, the focus is on the long term effects of divorce on children; to that effect, relevant examples and statics are provided to support the various premises advanced. The differential effects of a strong family unit prior to divorce is also assessed herein.
Children whose parents have gone through divorce are more likely to be more introversive than their peers whose parents have not gone through such divorce. In the opinion advanced by Fagan & Churchill (274), the likelihood of introversion increases significantly among children, if the any one, or both, of the parents was violent during the marriage. Feeling they have no voice over the events that take place in their lives, children of divorce (from violent homes) are highly likely to “withdraw into their shells” and keep to themselves. Further, children of divorce, particularly those from violent homes, are likely to have a low sense of self as they view themselves as different from others; at times even blaming themselves for their parents’ divorce, McIntosh (67) adds. The combined introversion and low sense of self are likely to hamper the process of development among such children, predisposing them to poor performance in school. In support of this premise, Chiffriller & Kangos (241) point out that during the process of divorce, children’s voices may not be heard, making them seem invisible, a fact that exacerbates their introversion and increases their likelihood of detachment from others.
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Crime & Delinquency
All children need guidance from their parents in order to grow up into responsible adult citizens. Among children of divorce, due to a confluence of factors, mainly longer working hours for the remaining parent and a feeling of abandonment, the likelihood of engaging in crime is higher as the parental guidance is significantly reduced. Robertson (29) in examining the link between parental divorce and negative child outcomes through a literature review study, points out that children from homes where the parents have been divorced are more likely than those from stable homes to be involved in acts of juvenile delinquency and/or crime. This is attributed to the perceived lack of stability in the home setting that visits families in which divorce has occurred. Carrying great emotional baggage from home, such children of divorce are likely to act out in delinquent manners, in an attempt to vent out their anger and frustrations at the failure of their parents’ marriage. Similarly, Robertson (31) observes that children of divorce (believing they are different from others) depict a higher tendency to associate with delinquents and criminals who are viewed as misfits in society, in a bid to fit in or seek approval.
Extinction of the Family Unit
In conservative and predominant views, families are made up of two parents and their children. Divorce however distorts this view of family, breaking up marriages and causing children to live with one parent while another only visits after set intervals. In the assertion of Amato (5), this fact causes a distortion of the view of family in the eyes of children from affected homes. In their minds, family becomes a liability (especially if the parents’ marriage was characterized by violence), awakening in them a tendency to avoid forming meaningful and intimate (romantic or plutonic) relationships with others due to the fear of being abandoned. This fact discourages children of divorce from forming their own families in the fear that the misfortunes that befell their parents will visit them. By dissuading children from broken homes from forming meaningful relationships with others (up to, and including marriage), divorce may lead to the extinction of the idea of marriage among the affected populations.
Critical Thinking Section
Many of the thoughts advanced by the researchers and scholars whose works have been consulted in populating this research resonate with the existing realities. Children, for example, as Chiffriller & Kangos (241) establish, tend to have certain reactions when rejected or ignored (a fact that attends many divorced families) by those that mean much to them; reactions that may manifest in the form of delinquency or crime. Fagan & Churchill (274) in establishing that children of divorce are likely to be introverted and withdrawn also make relatable observations that can be easily confirmed, as do the other authors whose works have been cited by this research essay.
Divorce of parents has many effects on children, a number manifesting in the long term. Involvement in delinquency and crime is among the long term effects that divorce has on children, as is the increased likelihood of introversion and withdrawal from the daily routines of life. Dissuasion from forming meaningful relationships with others is also another long term effect that divorce has on children; and which can lead to the distortion of such children’s view of family.
- Amato, Paul R. “The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children: An Update.” Drustvena Istrazivanja 23.1 (2014): 5.
- Chiffriller, Sheila H., and Kelsey A. Kangos. “Children’s Reactions When Ignored and Rejected: A Second Look.” North American Journal of Psychology 16.2 (2014): 241.
- Fagan, Patrick, F., and Aaron Churchill. “The Effects of Divorce on Children” Marriage Research 41.2 (2012): 271-279.
- Hetherington, E. Mavis, ed. Coping with Divorce, Single Parenting, and Remarriage: A Risk and Resiliency Perspective. Psychology Press, 2014: 63-68.
- McIntosh, Jennifer. “Enduring Conflict in Parental Separation: Pathways of Impact on Child Development.” Journal of Family Studies 9.1 (2003): 63-80.
- Robertson, Haley. Exploring Potential Connections between Parental Divorce, Deviance and Negative Child Outcomes: A Literature Review. Dissertation. Arkansas Tech University, 2016: 29-55.