Affect of Divorce on Children

divorce on children. Impacts of divorce on children have until quite recently been unilaterally stated to be detrimental. However, as recently as a decade ago at least two empirical studies (Kelly, 2007; Wallerstein & Lewis, 2007) found that such may not be case. Too many other variables are involved aside from which distinction must be drawn between children who suffered from within the context of their unhappy two-parent marriage and children who function from within the context of a divorced background. This essay will also conclude with the research question regarding whether any particular prevention programs can be implemented to stymie potential negative impact of divorce on the children.

Introduction

The new millennium shows divorce to be as consistent as ever, and research shows contradictory results regarding its impact on the children. A further question would be that, granted that divorce were to occur, are there any preventative programs or action-steps that could alleviate the potentially negative results.

For more than 40 years, divorce has been viewed by media and by science as the cause of enduring behavioral and emotional behavior in children and young adults (Amato, 2010), whereas growing up in a married family has been historically considered wholesome. This picture, however, is too simplistic particularly since many two-parent families do not offer the desired stable and conflict-free environment. Furthermore, researchers such as Hetherington (1999) (in Sandler, Miles, Cookston, & Braver (2008)) have shown that even though there may be differences between children from emotionally stable 2-paretns families and between those from divorce, the majority of children from divorced families are emotionally well-adjusted.

Two recent longitudinal studies (Kelly, 2007; Wallerstein & Lewis, 2007) have shown that many more variables are involved in the effects of divorce on children and that, in many cases, children may prove more emotionally resilient than was popularly believed to be the case. Factors include the nature of the initial separation, the nature of the divorce and child's relationship with parents (including custody factors), the nature of the parents relationship with one another, parental adjustment and resources, social, communal and other family support (if there is), children's academic and social adjustment, re-partnering of either one or both of the parents, and characteristics of the children themselves. The more multiple the stressors, the harder it may be for children to deal with the divorce over time and the more exponential the risks.

Hetherington (1999) (in Sandler, Miles, Cookston, & Braver (2008)), for instance, concludes that the extent of emotional risk for children from divorced families is twice as likely as that for children from continuously and happily long-married families. 10% of children from continuously married families may have serious psychological and behavioral components as measured on objective tests compared to the 20-25% of children with the same problems from divorced families (Waite, Luo, Lewin, 2009) and these problems do not disappear with remarriage (ibid.). The largest effects are seen with conduct disorders, antisocial behaviors, and disregard to authority figures such as parents and teachers. Less robust effects are found in connection with depression, anxiety, and self-esteem. Some studies found differences in gender, but being that too many variables are involved it is difficult to arrive at any reliable conclusion here.

Children from divorced families also seem to have lower academic scores than children from happily married families, but socioeconomic and other variables may also have an impact here (Potter, 2010).

Moreover, children from divorced families also have more difficulties in their intimate relationships as young adults. Young adults from divorced families marry earlier, tend to report more discontentment with their…