Divorce is such a controversial topic, though we see many more divorces than ever. The question sometimes should not be about the parents, but about the children being dragged through such a difficult time at such as young and important part of their life. Through this post I will be examining 4 articles, 2 which defend how divorce is not so bad for children, and 2 which argue that a child can’t come out of a divorce unscarred.
First, let’s examine an article done by Huffington Post, written by Brette Sember, who titles her article, “Why a Good Divorce Is Better Than a Bad Marriage for Kids.” Sember, being a former Divorce Attorney has much experience in the field dealing with divorced parents, thus can shed a lot of insight into how families are impacted. Sember starts off with a strong central message stating, “while there is no question that divorce is hard for kids, it is a far cry better than raising your children in a violent, abusive, angry, or deeply resentful marriage.” She does have a point here, considering that sticking through with a bad and harmful relationship could have an overall negative impact on your children instead of separating and having them live in two peaceful homes. Sember continues to then comment “if you stay married for the sake of your children, you expose them to daily arguments, negative undercurrents, shouting, possible violence, and an atmosphere that is in no way calm and peaceful.” Overall, Sember makes an argument that within the family, if the parents are not at good terms, then forcing a marriage can overall impact a child more negatively than simply divorcing. Also, what I find compelling about Ember’s article is how she addresses the other side of the argument, stating, “while the research is clear that divorce does have an impact on children, it fails to take into account the permanent emotional damage children suffer when they stay in one home with parents who can’t get along.” She continues to say how a divorce frees a family from such a hostile environment.
Secondly, we have another article from Psychology Today, written by Susan Gadoua. She titles her article “Divorce Doesn’t Harm Children – Parents Fighting Harms Child.” So, here we have a second article from another credible source making an argument that divorce itself doesn’t harm the children, what does is the fighting. Right off the bat, Gadoua shows her main message of the article stating, “regardless of whether parents stay together or split, if there is fighting going on between them, the children will suffer.” This is a similar argument made by Sember in the previous article, focusing more on the psychological aspect of fighting and a bad marriage, than the divorce itself and how it impacts the children that way. Gadoua also comments on the other side of the argument who say that divorce is bad for children, by commenting and discrediting a book titled “The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce,” written by Judith Wallerstein, which the main premise of the book is that divorce overall hurts children. Gadoua comments how “any longitudinal study on families like this can’t possibly yield accurate results because you have no way to compare these families to the alternative.” Gadoua is saying here how after studying a family long term, and how the divorce impacts the family, you can’t compare this to the same family if they did not get in a divorce. The closest you can come to comparing divorce factors is by comparing a divorced family and one that stays in tact. She then goes on and says how every family is unique and has their own factors such as, cultural differences, age of children, economic status, degree of tension, and so forth. So overall, you cannot generalize how a divorce can be always bad for the children when there are many unique aspects at play. This is then commented by Gadoua stating, “every situation is truly unique and a myriad of factors need to be weighed such as timing, age of your children, safety for you and your children, financial ability to split up as well as other resources on hand.” She sums up the article by saying how staying with your children can seem like the right thing to do, though that isn’t in every case and when you and your family is in a more happy situation, so will your children be.
Now, coming from the other side, an article written by Harry Benson for Institute for Family Studies, titles his article “When, and Why, Divorce hurts Kids.” He starts off the article by referencing a recent study done stating the study “came out earlier this month concluding that whether parents cooperate or not makes little difference to how children cope with divorce.” This is opposite to the other two articles I analyzed, because both Gadoua and Sember argued that divorcing from a bad environment helps the children, though this study says that doesn’t matter for the children because they still have to cope with the divorce itself. Benson does give the other side some credit though by saying how sometimes there is no other option but divorce considering how toxic the environment is at home. Benson does go on to say though how “in many other cases, however, divorce does damage children, especially where the parents had relatively low levels of conflict. According to one U.S. study, that description applies to about half of divorcing couples.” Benson goes on then to talk about two main reasons why the break up hurts children. First, after a divorce, there is usually fewer resources to pay for life related things, thus the family sometimes has to receive government aid, and also how one parent ends up becoming displaced, typically the father who then “needs to make an extra effort to remain in regular contact with his children.” This doesn’t always happen, and reduced father day-to-day contact typically has a negative impact on children. The second point Benson makes is how the children view the divorce different than the parents. Benson refers to certain questions which go through kid’s minds, such as “what on earth happened? Was it me? Or is that how relationships are? They just go pop for no apparent reason?” This type of thinking can then end up hurting the child’s perceived thought of relationships and impact their relationship life negatively as adults.
Finally, an article written by Tricia Goyer, for Family Life, titles her article “It Hurts to be a Child of Divorce.” She begins the article by talking about personal experiences with divorce as a child as well as her own experience, being 18, when her parents divorced. Overall, as a child, she thought that divorce “didn’t seem right. More than that, it seemed wrong.” Going further into her experience as a child, Goyer thought how weird it was to go to two Christmas Gathering, and two Thanksgivings. To her it seemed unnatural and things never seemed “right” after the divorce. She also comments on the psychological impact the strenuous relationship of her parents had on herself. She references how there will always be a sort of guilt in her mind associated with her parents, always thinking that it was her fault somehow and “if I’d been a better kid it would have been easier for my parents to work it out.” She then sums up the article stating “the best thing you can do for yourself and for your children is to give your marriage a second chance. Don’t think that walking away from your commitment will come without consequences. Don’t think you’re not going to break your children’s hearts.”
For the 4 sources, I believe they were all credible, though some had more of a convincing stance than others. For example, in my opinion, the two best sources came from the Huffington Post article, and the Institute for Family Studies article, both which are very credible sources, defending opposite stances. These are both very credible because they come from well known sources, and one references many studies done on divorce, while the other was a past divorce attorney, thus automatically has some credibility when talking about how divorce impacts families. I believe that based on my research that there are some cases where divorce is necessary for the well-being of both the parents and the children, though I believe that is only the case in extremely toxic situations where the divorce ends up only positively impacting the children. Though, overall, as noted in Benson’s article, half of divorcing parents have relatively low levels of stress, thus the children in those families end up confused and question themselves as to why the divorce occurred because it wasn’t too obvious. So, my consensus would be that in most cases, the children end up being negatively impacted, and I believe that in all cases, every child is scared somehow by the split.