About 1.5 million children suffer each year from parents getting a divorce. Every year that number seems to become higher and higher. For many parents they just seem to give up on their relationship, and it results in a divorce. In my family it is extremely controversial as they are so old school, so when my aunt cheated on my uncle and they got a divorce, leaving a stranded 9 year old behind, it felt like his world was crashing, and we all questioned whether this would be better or worse for the child growing up.
Does getting a divorce harm the child or have virtually no effect on the child growing up, and their psyche as they are maturing, and have to go back and fourth between houses? Some people argue that divorce can not result in a happy, healthy child, while others argue that the child can grow up with no psychological issues.
The first article is written recently in 2013 by Scientific American states that children usually feel as though their world is falling apart after a divorce occurs, children tend to adjust fairly well in the years following the divorce. A study followed children of divorce from childhood, to adolescence. It looked over their habits, emotional and behavioral problems, along with social relationships. On average there was almost no difference between children of divorce and children who’s parents stay together. Later in the article it states that many children don’t face divorce-related problems, especially if they lived in a high conflict household before they were told about the divorce. However, if the couple seemed happy, and the child was told about divorce, they were often terrified and surprised, leading to a more difficult time adjusting. Overall, it states that many children adjust well after divorce and lead a happy, healthy life and relationships.
The second article I found that supports that children of divorce can adjust well is a post from thehuffingtonpost, written by Brette Sember, lists a few of the reasons in bold, and explains the reasons why children of divorce do better than children who are constantly exposed to an extremely unhappy marriage. The first example on this list explains two homes that are not constantly filled with arguments. This can benefit a child because they do not have to constantly be exposed to the negativity, and emotional drain that being stuck in the middle of your family constantly arguing brings about. There is a calmer emotional baseline, as well as happy parents, and being exposed to parents co-parenting them, and working together effectively can help the child to learn that compromise is a valuable skill to have in life. It also states that parents who choose personal happiness are teaching their children to do the same, and to never settle for less than they are truly happy with. This is important, however, I do not think that most children view it this way, as many children see it as nobody, not even their own parents, could be happy together, and it makes them believe less and less in love.
A post written in Psychology today by Jann Gumbiner states that she is a child of divorce and it hurts children no matter what. Children of divorce, especially those of low conflict (about half of those who get divorced) think that it is their fault. No matter what they do, it is their fault. She states that most children lose their motivation in school, and their grades start to suffer, especially right after the divorce. Eventually they can learn to deal with the suffrage, but for a while they are extremely unmotivated. She states that during her teenage years she become very promiscuous because she did not have the constant love and affection from her dad, which is often the case with divorced parents. Often, no matter how qualified the father is, the mother gains primary custody of the child, and the child begins to rarely see their father, leading to a lack of love. She also states that it has affects on child from being in and out of court so many times, and that many children who have dealt with their parents being divorced are more likely to get divorced in the future, because they were already exposed to “giving up” and not working through their problems. Also, she states that fathers are more likely to take in their future wife’s children more so than their own children, which leaves the biological child very much so out of the loop, which is devastating to the child. Overall, she states that it has a long term effect on children, no matter the circumstances.
The last article that I’ve looked into is from a website FocusOnTheFamily, and the article was written by Amy Desai. She states that research before hand was “Happy parents, happy child” that divorce had virtually no affect on the children, however more recent research states that the children suffer from divorce, more so than parents are willing to admit. Children believe that parents should be able to work through anything, no matter the issue, so when they are told their parents are splitting up, they do not understand, and they blame themselves. Many stats say that they will suffer academically, and behaviorally, which is in contrast to the first article that states that there is no consequence from divorced/ parents who are together. They are less likely to graduate high school ( as divorce is becoming more common, it is more appropriate to say they will graduate, but with lower than average scores). Teens from divorced parents are more likely to engage in drugs and alcohol, and sex at a younger age. She states that the the emotional scars from divorce will leave psychological scars, along with emotional issues that will follow them into adulthood. Parents also tend to focus more on their own happiness, rather than their child’s needs, which hurts the child in the long run, because they will not understand that they are important. They are more likely to be in competition for their parents love, especially if the parents start to date, or the father is not in the picture anymore. The time is no longer focused on the children and making them happy, but rather just making themselves happy. Many fathers do ‘adopt’ a new family, creating the child of divorce to be seen as no longer good enough, as they no longer have their fathers love. She also states that it is not an easy out, and is often more complicated than salvaging the marriage.
Overall, I would have to agree that divorce is a hard time for children that often times leads to horrible emotional scars, and trust issues. Especially if the family did not constantly argue, but they were just giving up on their marriage. It is true in a lot of cases that the parents tend to focus on themselves and their own happiness rather than their child’s. My aunt and uncle who have just gotten a divorce are focusing on themselves and often times don’t even see their child for days or weeks at a time because they are too focused with their new life. My aunt, who remarried, now leaves her child in the custody of her new neighbors, or at a daycare, to go on dates and vacations with her new husband. Children of divorce often do a have a harder time coping without both parents than we are willing to admit. Many people that are getting divorced, it is because they do not think they love each other anymore, however, they are just not focusing on their own needs, but their child, if they split the time between themselves and their child, they could salvage their marriage and lead a happy, loving, stable household. It is much like when they divorce they seem happier because they are spending the time on themselves, rather than their children.
Now, sometimes divorce is inevitable and it still leaves scars for the children, but sometimes it is in the best interest of both parties and the child if the parents separate, however, I personally believe that parents should stay together and work through their issues. My parents constantly argued and fought horribly as I was growing up, and my sister got the same anger and fought with my parents to let out her anger. She is a junior in college now, and I am a freshman in college, and our household gets kind of hostile when we go home for breaks, however, my parents together have had the time to bond, and work out their issues since they now have the time to focus on themselves rather than constantly focusing on us being home, and they are a lot happier when they are alone and do not have the constant arguing and tension like they used to have, the tension that used to always make me believe I would wake up one morning to my dad gone (once again) and he just wouldn’t come back this time.