--Original published at Sidney's college blogs
Divorce was always frowned upon for a very long time. It was not until recent years that divorce has become more and more common. Families used to stick together because it was the right thing to do, or because they wanted to ensure their children of a normal childhood. Does an unhappy marriage guarantee a normal childhood though? Are children better off with their parents separated? Or does divorce leave children damaged and broken? There has always been controversy over these types of questions. In this first spotlight blog, I will talk about both the negative and the positive effects divorce can have on children.
From FamilyMeans, there is an article called What Are the Effects of Divorce on Children? This article understands that children react and respond in various ways. Not all children are going to react in an understanding way in response to the divorce, but not all children will be defiant in reaction to it either. Each child will react in a different way than others will. This article compiles a variation of negative responses that are common from children who have experience their parents going through a divorce. The major negative responses that are listed are poor academic performance, loss of social activity, difficult adaptability to change, sensitive to emotions, anger and irritability, guilt, destructive behavior, health problems, and a loss in faith for marriages and families.
The FamilyMeans elaborates on each of these negative responses from children. Divorce changes the child’s whole life. They will likely think about it a lot and try to understand it all. This leaves the child distracted and interrupts their focus. This leads to poorer academic performance. They are unable to fully focus due to the distraction. During this time, they may experience a difficult time relating to others. They may feel singled out and as if they are the only one who has gone through this. These feelings can result in a lack of sociability. The newness of the situation can cause an adaptability problem for children as well. They may have to learn a new house, a new school, new friends, and many other things may affect the child to have a hard time adapting to different situations. Through this time, they need an outlet to talk to. The emotions of it all can build up, making them emotionally sensitive. When they can not find an outlet to release these feelings to, it can result in a build up of anger and irritability. They may take the anger out on their parents, themselves, friends, and others. Although it may only be temporary, sometimes the anger stays with them for a long period of time, affecting them as whole. Some children may develop guilt due to their inability to understand why the divorce took place. They often place the blame on themselves, and the guilt builds up. If the guilt continues after a long period; depression, stress, and other health problems can arise. This ties into the increase of health problems. The stressful time can take a toll on children. They may lie awake at night due to a difficulty sleeping because of their stress. This lack of sleep can lead to a weakened immune system, making them more susceptible to getting sick. Other psychological problems may arise as well. If conflict is left unresolved, children are likely to rebel in destructive ways. This can lead to abused drug use later in life or addiction. FamilyMeans reports that research shows that children who experience divorce are likely to divorce their spouse later in life as well.
I found this article from FamilyMeans of great use due to the credibility it holds. Within each section, they have links that lead to a study done to support the information they provided. To emphasize the negative effects that divorce has on children, I gathered information from Darthmouth. The article from their website is Risk and Resilience in Children Coping with Divorce. Many topics that were discussed in the FamilyMeans article are also discussed within the Dartmouth article.
A topic that has not been discussed previously is the financial aspect of a divorce. The family may need to move to a less expensive area, making the school weaker for their academics. Although not always detrimental, the lesser income can influence children in indirect ways. Another topic emphasized within this article is the toll that remarriage and re-partnering can have on children. When the parent starts seeing someone who does not share the same biological ties, children are resilient to form a bond with the stepparent. Children may internalize behaviors, such as anxiety, depression, and low sociability. They may also experience externalized behaviors, such as aggression, defiant behavior, and low self-regulation. Just as the article from FamilyMeans, this article also recognizes that children can develop into stable adults, but it also acknowledges that there are common difficulties that children face throughout the divorce process. I found that this was a credible source due to it being a journal of science. There are numerous studies and articles about various topics on this site.
Although there have been many negative views on divorce, there are also people who believe that divorce can be beneficial for children. The article, 8 Ways Your Children Can Benefit from Divorce from SurvivingDivorce, claims that the negative aspects of divorce are the only things that are focused on. This article acknowledges that divorce is going to be hard and it will be an adjustment, but the divorce can be a positive thing. Children are often caught in the middle of a high conflict marriage. They constantly see the lack of respect and they benefit when they are no longer put in the situation. They no longer have to take sides and be put in uncomfortable situations within the fighting. If parents are open with their disapproval of each other and that the marriage is just not working, the divorce can bring relief to children. Being away from the hostility can benefit them, rather than keeping them in an unstable environment. When the parents are able to remain civil with each other and maintain a positive relationship, the children are able to see the maturity and look up to that. They respect the way their parents handle the situation, and they learn that relationships can be saved even when you are no longer together. Another way the child may benefit is by getting the proper parenting they should be getting. If the parents are consumed in fighting with each other and fighting, then the child is often left in neglect of proper love and care. When they divorce, the parent is then able to love and care for their children properly again. The parent may also cherish that time with their children more. Normally there is split custody, so they value the time they have with them more. This values time with them can create a stronger one-on-one bond between the child and parent. In the negative aspects of divorce, the idea of remarrying and cohabiting with someone else was an issue. In this article, it brings the positive that they may gain the sibling they always wanted. They will have more extended family to lean on and get to know. It also took a positive look at moving into a new house. The new house can bring the opportunity for the child to make many new friends.
If the child is older and has younger siblings, they can take on a role of maturity and responsibility. They often feel as though they need to take care of the younger siblings and make sure that they are okay. This enhances their strength and responsibility at a young age. The last point that SurvivingDivorce makes is that the children may have a better understanding of life. They may be more tolerant, caring, and helpful because of the situation they went through. Without this hardship, they may have never learned to be so mature and take such responsibility. I found this to be a credible source because it is a source from a divorce coach. There are many articles regarding divorce on this website. To reinforce the ways divorce can influence children positively, I gathered information from the article Benefits of Divorce for Children from TotalDivorce. This source is from a factual website about divorce. It gives the laws of divorce, lawyers to contact, child custody and support, and what to expect after the divorce. It also gives links within the article to the study that they took this information from.
The TotalDivorce article has a few points that were not mentioned within the article in SurvivingDivorce. Children who experience their parents getting a divorce often have better communication skills. They learn to communicate between each parent with deadlines and events. The changing between houses also enforces organizational skills. They may need to know which different bus to take home a certain day, and which clothes and books they need to pack. They may also have better time management skills. It ties into the organizational skills that they develop. They know when they are going to be with which parent. This will influence their motivation to get things done, such as assignments. The last positive point that this article brings is that the children will develop good relationship building skills. They meet and get to know people due to their parents meeting others. They learn this skill at an early age rather than later in life as most people do. It teaches them how to adapt in various ways and builds them as a whole.
Overall, I believe that both sides have reasonable arguments. However, I agree that divorce has mostly negative effects on children. Although it was looked at as positive for children to be mature and responsible, I believe that it pushes the children out of their adolescence. They should not have to take on the responsibilities that they are taking when their parents get a divorce. I feel that they are forced to grow up way too soon. I do not think that if a child experiences a divorce that they will be forever damaged and unhappy, but I do believe that it leaves lasting hardships on the child. The constant bickering and fighting may be strenuous to the child, and the divorce may ease that, but the other factors of the divorce may over ride that and cause more harm on the child. Although I can see how some may take these positive outlooks as plausible, I do not agree that divorce truly has positive outcomes on children.