With divorced parents children are vulnerable to lifelong active effects on their development as well as with their ability to grow into healthy, mature adults. This paper will address the emotional and psychological effects on children of all ages. It will discuss a variety of situations that affect the children of divorced parents such as abandonment issues, attachment issues and behavior problems, just to mention a few. It will also show the effects of divorce on these children as they grow into adults – the difficulties of relationships, trust and maturity.
Many parents that go through divorce don’t realize or think about what impact their divorce has on heir children. Through this paper which was written through researching books, articles and the internet, I hope to show the enormity of the negative impact of divorce on children of all ages. Impact of Divorce on Children under the Age of 18 Divorce has become a growing epidemic in our society today. The reality of divorce in this lifetime is as real as it gets. Two out of three children will experience the divorce of their parents before they reach the age of 18.
Through the conflict, fighting, and confusion children are often not thought about through the divorce process. Divorce hurts children both short-term ND long-term. Divorce affects all children on some level. According to recent studies, over one million children in the United States will experience the divorce of their parents this year. Divorce for children, at least for the first two years, can shatter a child’s universe setting him or her adrift on an ocean of uncertainty and distress. They wonder if they will see the absent parent again? Will they see their friends again?
Some children are also in danger of developing emotional problems that have consequences that go well beyond their adolescence and into their adulthood. One of the first effects on hillier is at the beginning during the first stages of divorce, it becomes a tug of war with the children. Parents that criticize each other in front of children causes them to feel bad or insecure when they hear something negative about one of their parents. When they fight in front of the children it can cause them to try and choose between them which causes emotional stress.
One parent has a tendency to cut themselves off from the children which leaves the child with abandonment issues that can last throughout their life to adulthood. Children think they weren’t good enough and that this caused the parent to leave and not stick around. Through the divorce parents tend to use their children as a confidant and this can force children to choose sides. This definitely causes confliction in children. Children are often anxious about being abandoned and wonder who will take care of them; they worry that the separation is their fault.
Boys are more at risk than girls primarily because most of the time mothers are awarded custody instead of the fathers. The absence of a male role model makes it more difficult for boys to adjust to divorce. Preadolescence and adolescent children are more at sis over the long-term because in the short-term their close alignment with their peers represses their feelings regarding their parents’ divorce. Let’s first take a look at infants and some of the developmental features of how divorce can have an impact on them. Secure attachment is where the infant grows up thinking everything will be alright and that they will be taken care Of.
Children who grow up securely attached to their parents are more likely to have trusting relationships, express feelings well, and have a higher self- esteem than those who don’t. Divorce can infer with the infant’s bond with is or her parent(s). Depression can cause a parent to not attend to the infant’s needs. Sometimes parents keep the child away from the other parent and when things like this happen the infant will have problems developing a healthy secure attachment to their parents which will have an effect on their relationships as they grow older.
Children of all ages are affected from the depression of the parents as they go through the divorce. Their parenting abilities are impacted by depression which can interfere with both warmth and consistency toward the children. They tend to be more negative toward he demands of parenting. Depressed parents often find less pleasure in any activity including interaction with their children. Lyons-Ruth, Wolfe and hauberk found that in comparison to non-depressed parents, depressed parents did less playing and reading with their children and were less affectionate (R.
Taylor et all’s, 2009, p. 475). Children are greatly impacted by parental depression. They are at a higher risk of becoming clinically depressed themselves. Many children of divorce lose faith in marriage and become unable to form intimate relationships. “Citing research, in most cases children would be deter off if parents with unhappy marriages did not divorce. Wilson argues that divorce creates insecurity and requires children to negotiate between the conflicting worlds of their mothers and fathers” (Wilson, 2009, p. 6). Early adolescence is a vulnerable time, a time of shaky self-esteem and personal independence issues. Adolescents of divorce often overreact with unrealistic anguish and anxiety. This is caused by their adolescent egocentrics. Adolescent egocentrics is where they see only their own needs and they feel everyone is watching them. Because of this many of them lash out at their arenas, “How could you do this to me? ” Often times parents start adding extra household or child-care responsibilities on adolescents.
Some adolescents get pushed into roles that they are not ready for such as the role of the absent parent, or the son that is pushed into a role of the man of the house or the one who becomes their parent’s confidant. Being cast into a role they are not ready for can cause many to be depressed; it is too much for them. They cannot hide behind the confusion of the preschool age child. They understand what is going on but they feel helpless to stop it. They get angry about their lack of control and often times engage in risky behavior such as sex, drugs, and alcohol.
The consequences of these risky behaviors can cause pregnancy, problems in school or trouble with the law. Older adolescents may not experience their parents’ divorce to be earth shattering as early adolescents do because their egos are more mature. Nevertheless they often have strong reactions to their parents’ divorce. They may feel abandoned, anxious, and depressed. Their use of drugs and alcohol may increase and also can have problems sleeping and eating and focusing on their school work or studies. They are struggling with their own identities and trying to figure out who they are.
Older adolescents are trying to develop a self-image as a unique person so that they can enter adulthood with self- confidence. When parents divorce, the adolescent who is developing identity can be thrown into chaos and their self-confidence may be undermined. Without a clear path to a mature identity they can find a variety of ways to get in trouble such as school. They get lower grades, do poorly on achievements tests, have lower educational aspirations, and adolescents from divorced families often drop out of school.
They are not socially competent, they get into trouble with other people and they often show behavior problems such as being more aggressive and antisocial. Adolescents have more off tendency to commit more delinquent acts of shoplifting, damaging school property, running away from home, fighting, stealing, and lying. Not only do they have these exterminating problems but they also have internalizing problems such as being more anxious, withdrawn, depressed and having lower self-esteem. They more often have a sense of despair and are likely to feel hopeless or sometimes suicidal.
A majority of the effects of divorce on children is seen the greatest during their adulthood. They have little or no knowledge of how to sustain a romantic relationship nor how to resolve conflicts that arise in those relationships. The “sleeper effect” is another effect on children where they seem adjusted or recover rather quickly after a divorce but because of denied feelings at a subconscious level, feelings about the divorce may emerge at some point later in life. It is a delayed reaction; years later the effects start to show. Consequences of divorce has a lifelong impact on children.
In early childhood some of the consequences are confusion and bewilderment, fear of abandonment, grief and anger, guilt and self-blame. In adolescence there are aggression and conduct problems, early sexuality, drug and alcohol abuse and anxiety about romantic relationships. Children from divorced families are more likely to experience more behavioral, emotional, health and academic problems. Compared with children of intact families they are more likely to have conduct problems and show signs of psychological maladjustment; they have lower academic achievement, and more social difficulties, and poorer self-esteem.
Some of the short-term effects on children of divorce may include the following: anger, sadness, depression, opposition, impulsively, aggression, non-compliance, perceived parental loss, interpersonal conflict, economic hardship, life stress, less parental supervision, less consistent discipline, more negative sanctions, lower academic achievement, acting out, lower self-concept, social adjustment difficulty and increased dependency. Even though these are considered short-term effects they can adversely affect long-term development in that they build up over time if they are not addressed in a costive way.
Long term effects of children of divorce include fears of betrayal, abandonment, loss and rejection, and anxiety in later teens and early ass’s. Feelings and memories of their parents’ divorce emerge as they enter adulthood, leaving one vulnerable to the experience of loss, anger, resentment and hostility, a reduction in psychological well-being, depression in young adulthood, and low satisfaction. Socially children have problems with poor relationships and a reduction in the ability to develop and maintain supportive friendships.
They are most likely to divorce themselves, engage in sexual intercourse, have delinquent behaviors and has a fear of repeating their parents’ failure. They may have problems maintaining a loving relationship and have a fear of commitment, intimacy, and trust. Divorces most always consist Of conflict, tension, and competition over the children. This will ultimately cause stress for children of all ages. Children who are stressed can revert to earlier behaviors, I. E. Three year old may wet his pants, a two year old may demand a bottle, the eleven year old may whine and cry and refuse to do things they know how to do, thumb sucking may come up again. Children become trapped between parents opposing values, beliefs and lifestyles. As a result they feel confused and alone since these conflicting values strike at the very heart of their identity. They question their identity asking themselves , “Who am I and what are my values? Children go through an identity crisis. Divorce interrupts a child’s developmental progress.
Many children get stuck at the time of breakup because they are so exhausted by what’s happening at home. They are too anxious and worried about their parents and their own future that they become listless and unfocused. They don ‘t listen to teachers and they don’t do homework causing them to fall behind. Sometimes their anger can stall their developmental progress. They are so angry that they refuse to listen to anything adults have to say and sidetrack themselves from making important social, academic and psychological achievements.