Effects Of Divorce On A Child

1885 words - 8 pages

Divorce is a very common word in today's society. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage or a complete or radical severance of closely connected things"(Pickett, 2000). This dissolution of marriage has increased very rapidly in the past fifty years. In 1950 the ratio of divorce to marriage was one in every four; in 1977 that statistic became one in two. Currently one in every two first marriages results in divorce. In second marriages that figure is considerably higher, with a 67% average (National Vital Statistics Report, 2001). One critical aspect of divorce is often not taken into consideration: How it affects children. Every year 1.1 million children are affected by divorce (Benjamin, 2000). Children from divorce or separation often exhibit behavioral and long-term adjustment problems (Kelly, 2000). Throughout this paper I will discuss divorces effects on children at different age levels, how they react, and what can be done to help them.

When a couple with a child chooses to get a divorce this can have major impact on a child at any age. There are many causes of stress throughout the divorce process that can negatively affect children. First, negative reactions and behaviors are dependent upon the situation before the divorce. Some studies show that how much parents fight, how it is done, how it is resolved, and what precautions are taken to protect the children from it's effects are the most important predictors of child adjustment (Kelly, 2000). Meaning that if children are exposed to fights about custody, money, or the failing marriage they could feel the repercussions of their parents conflict. Next, divorce can cause children to have heightened fears. One fear, the fear of change, has a major influence them. The child might be worried because they may have to change schools, make new friends, or adjust to new family members. Another example of a fear that they might have to deal with is a fear of abandonment. In the process of divorce children feel as if they are losing a parent. From this they gain a fear of losing the other parent. Children also worry about who will take care of them and be there after school (DeBord, 1997). An additional fear they might possess is the loss of attachment. Attachments are made between all members of a family, even pets. When a divorce causes a change in the frequency of communication and contact between family members there could be some distress (DeBord, 1997). Finally, the lingering animosity between parents after the divorce can be a huge source of stress for a child. Thus, although the divorce does take place between parents it has an obvious affect on the children and is seen a major cause of stress for them.

Divorce may affect young children somewhat differently than older children. According to Karen DeBord, a child development specialist, there are different stages in childhood, and at each of these stages...

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