--Original published at Kaylyn's PSY105 Blog
Divorce can be a messy situation; especially, when children are involved, because it will turn their lives upside down. Since divorce is becoming more common, so have the arguments being made on both sides on how it affects a child’s wellbeing. Most people have evidence to support their argument on either side, if it affects the child drastically, or not. There are cases to support both sides; however, you also need to look at the credibility of the sources giving you the information. If not, then you could be caught up with information that is not true or is twisted to make it appeal to their side. Both sides of the coin have reasons to believe whether a child is drastically affected, or not, by their parents getting divorced.
Jann Gumbiner is a clinical psychologist, and child of a divorced set of parents, which makes her passionate on the issue of divorce on children’s well-being. Being educated in mental health and being in a child of divorce’s shoes herself makes her a credible source because she had first-hand experience, and has education on mental health. She aligns herself on the side of people who believe divorce is an awful event that happens to the child and will impact them for the rest of their lives. She finds divorce to be selfish on the parent’s part, because they are putting their well-being, over the well-being of their children. In her situation, she did not have a stable family life after her parent’s divorced. Neither of her parents were there to place rules and enforce them. Her father was no longer prominent in her life and her mother became depressed, this caused her to become depressed and rebellious. She became frisky with male teenagers, her grades kept slipping due to lack of motivation, and she began to stop studying. She also believes that it will affect children in the long-term, when they enter into relationships of their own. Her experience with this issue is when she entered her future marriage and knew that she could leave. Due to her parent’s divorce, she has a passion with this issue, and she voices how it affected her throughout her life.
Another source that believes that divorce is bad for children’s well-being is Wayne Parker who wrote an article for “VeryWell Family”. Wayne Parker is a certified life coach, and the author of a parenting book called “Power Dads”. He did not have a personal touch with divorce like Jann Gumbiner, and used many outside sources in the form of journals or published books. He discussed the physical, emotional, and educational effects of divorce on children. Parker pulled facts from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior 29 (1985), which spoke about children being 50 percent more likely to develop physical health related issues than in two parent households. When discussing emotional effects he pulled from multiple sources which claimed that children are a lot more likely to develop depression or other mental health issues when their parents are divorced. For educational effects, he pulled from a book which claimed that children of divorce are two times more likely to drop out of high school. Overall, he uses sources, rather than personal experience, to develop a case for parents to stick together for the sake of their children’s health. On the other side of the argument people believe that children are drastically/ negatively affected by divorce.
In contrast to the two sources above, Susan Pease Gadoua, believes that sometimes divorce can be better than being in an unhappy marriage. Susan Pease Gadoua is a licensed therapist, and she also is the author/ co-author of multiple books on divorce and marriage. She is a believer that parents who divorce may be doing the best thing for their child in certain situations. Children can sense tension and would be just as easily affected by tension between parents, as they would if the parents become divorced. If the parents fight or show that they are unhappy that will have effects on the child. If you leave and are much happier because of it, you can still raise happy children with bright futures. She also points out the fact that you cannot test whether a child is affected heavily by a divorce, because you cannot put two families in the same situation. Also, there are too many other variables that may be happening in one family, and not in the other family they are being compared to. Every situation and every family are different; however, there are steps parents can take to make a divorce less problematic for the children.
In agreement with the author above are Andrew Cherlin and Frank F. Furstenberg Jr. are both professors, and authors of a few books on families. In their article to The Washington Post, they write about how each situation is different for each child and family. Sometimes children in the same families will handle the situation differently because some children are better at handling stress. They also critiqued the book “Second Chances: Men, Women and Children a Decade After Divorce,” by psychologist Judith S. Wallerstein and journalist Sandra Blakeslee” (Cherlin and Furstenberg 1). They talked about how the claims were exaggerated and that the study lacked randomization since the families were referred. The authors make the argument that parents who stayed together in conflict-ridden marriages may cause their children equal, if not more, amounts of pain. Another factor is how the custodial parent acts after the divorce. If the parent is angry or depressed, it will cause the child more pain to see their parent in that situation, and the parent cannot help the child recover.
Divorce is becoming a much more common situation than it was in the past, and when children are involved it can make a complicated situation more complicated. People want to make sure that the child can continue to be happy and healthy and some se divorce as ruining their chance at happiness. Although, on the other end, people see divorce as unique to each situation and people will react differently. In my opinion I can see some points on both sides; however, I believe that everyone is different and will handle divorce differently. Communication is a key factor in divorce because the children will not always understand what is going on and will need help to understand. Telling them that it is okay to feel what they are feeling and be willing to listen, can go a long way. Overall, I can see that divorces can happen and that children will not always be worse off; however, staying in an unhappy marriage can cause issues as well.
Cherlin, Andrew, and Frank F Furstenberg . “DIVORCE DOESN’T ALWAYS HURT THE KIDS.” The Washington Post
, WP Company, 19 Mar. 1989, http://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1989/03/19/divorce-doesnt-always-hurt-the-kids/6432e596-b8d3-45f1-a3f7-0a1029a59240/?utm_term=.c6428bf74291
Gadoua, Susan Pease. “Divorce Doesn’t Harm Children – Parents Fighting Harms Child.” Psychology Today
, Sussex Publishers, 15 Nov. 2009, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/contemplating-divorce/200911/divorce-doesnt-harm-children-parents-fighting-harms-child
Gumbiner, Jann. “Divorce Hurts Children, Even Grown Ones.” Psychology Today
, Sussex Publishers, 31 Oct. 2011, http://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-teenage-mind/201110/divorce-hurts-children-even-grown-ones
Parker, Wayne. “Statistics About Divorce and the Impact It Can Have on Children.” Verywell Family
, Verywellfamily, 25 Sept. 2018, http://www.verywellfamily.com/children-of-divorce-in-america-statistics-1270390