As divorce has significantly increased over the past years, the issue of child development has become a concern. With an average of only 40% of two parent families in the United States it’s safe to say divorce is an issue prevalent to almost everyone. You may not be immediately affected by the separation of parents but you most likely have a friend or loved one who has. It’s debated whether a child can come through divorce without any significant or serious consequence, some believe this is strictly impossible.
Looking at a recent study, I acquired from a journal article in the New York Times, 131 children from 60 families of divorce were studied over a course of 10-15 years. The author of the article Judith Wallerstine is a credible psychologist and author of the book, ”Second Chances: Men, Women & Children a Decade After Divorce”. The article the news produced was an adaptation from her book. The researches of this study thought that after a year or two, individuals would get their lives back on track and children would, “get on with new routines, new friends and new schools, taking full opportunity of the second chances that divorce brings in its wake”. However, the findings were quite different. Checking in on children about a year after a divorce they found them on a downward spiral and most were worse than they were immediately after the divorce. Looking in after 5 years they found, “only 34 percent of the children were clearly doing well”. Depression, a hard time concentrating in school, trouble making friends, and behavioral problems were reported or seen in many of these children. After the course of 10 years, almost half were still doing poorly as they entered adulthood some were angry, worried, under achieved, and self-critical. The study also indicated parents often in a divorce put substantial amounts of pressure on children to grow up fast and even sometimes participate in role reversal. The article states, “they are not simple role reversals, as some have claimed, because the child’s role becomes one of holding the parent together psychologically”. There can be emotional and physical hardships for a child trying to make whole what is left of a family in pieces (Wallerstine 1989).
Charles Bryner agrees with Judith’s stated research, in that children are in fact strongly impacted negatively by divorce. Bryner is a doctor of medicine who posted his findings in an article on Clinical Review. He states a child at an early age is dependent on both parents for support and if a parent isn’t initiating in one’s life, they tend to feel a sense of abandonment. When a parent leaves, a child may then feel rejected. Bryner describes that the loss a child feels during divorce can be compared to the same loss someone feels during death except, “divorce might actually be harder on children because it lacks the concrete cause and ﬁnality of death”. He describes stages of a child going through a parent’s divorce. One who doesn’t get adequate support can be stuck in denial. The child could be confused in this stage if a parent moves on because they don’t see the divorce with finality. He goes on to explain the negative impacts that poor father-daughter relationships can have. Resulting that many girls have poor social adjustments and during adolescence, exhibit precocious sexual activity and promiscuity. He does however throw in his writing the significance of getting help to reduce social and behavioral problems from such a traumatic event (Bryner 200).
It is believed by some that not all marital partings end harmfully. Research has said to constantly show families doing better than they are stereotyped after divorce. The more recent studies have shown less of a gap in academic achievement, self-concept, adjustment, and social competence as stated by Paul Amato author of the article “The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children”. This article was credibly published by the National Council of Family Relationships. The article actually keys in on positive aspects of divorce on children. Some studies have shown children doing better as daughters gain closer relationship with custodial mother and high-conflict marriage divorces results in a better outcome for the child. Divorce is an escape from a crazy or unhealthy home environment and a chance to develop relationships with parents without a constant having to choose sides or getting caught in between a world wind of craziness (Amato 200). As the years have changed divorced families have become more common and are less stigmatized. They over time have generated a greater support system. Although children of divorce are at high risk for adjustment problems, developmental difficulty can be reduced significantly if there are effective parenting practices and adults avoid hostile exchange in a child’s presence (Simons 1999).
My view towards the effects of divorce on children is very biased as my father and one of my best friends went through some rough parental divorce. Seen from the many studies and results in journals and articles it seems most children of a divorce as well have some difficulty adjusting after. I think it’s very rare for a child to not have any negative consequences when their parent’s split apart. However, I can recall some friends that say divorce made their parents a lot happier and because of them no longer fighting they were happier too. I believe most cases that turn out positive after divorce are contributed to parents that work together to make sure their children aren’t affected by their drama or situation. Assuring a child both parents still love them very much and setting a schedule were the child sees both parents I believe sets up for minimal negative consequences. Not all people are the same so it’s hard to say all individuals will have a negative outcome but from the reports I read and person insight, most do.
Amato, P.R. (2000). The Consequences of Divorce for Adults and Children. Journal of Marriage and Family 62(4), 1269-1287. Retrieved from:
Bryner, C. L. (2000). Children of Divorce. Clinical Review 14(3), 202-210. Retrieved from:
Simons, R.L., Lin, K., Gordon, L.C., Conger, R.D., & Lorenz, F.O. (1999). Explaining the Higher Incidence of Adjustment Problems Among Children of Divorce Compared with Those in Two-Parent Families. Journal of Marriage and Family 61(4), 1020-1033. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/354021.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A6e4db98a9bd7b2fa094cfdbcdb838914
Wallerstine, J.S. (1989). Children After Divorce. New York Times. Retrieved from: