Divorce Hits Home Essay, Research Paper
Divorce Hits Home
When life was so much shorter, there was barely time to live out one s adult life with a single mate. Today, the thought of twenty, thirty, or even forty years in a bad relationship can be a very weighty factor in deciding to leave (Ahrons 43). Many people in the United States have not survived a long marriage. So many people rush into marriage or get married for all the wrong reasons. When people don t take time to fall in love or get to know one another, their marriage usually ends up to be a failure. When a couple has decided that it would be best not to stay together anymore, they usually file for divorce. A divorce can be a very traumatic situation and it can affect a lot of people, mostly children. How will divorce affect these children? Are there typical reactions and predictable problems that boys and girls will have because of their parents divorce? What can the parent do to help their child cope with divorce? These are all questions frequently asked by parents (Schneider and Zuckerberg 11).
As the divorce rate has soared in the past twenty-five years, most people have either personally experienced or shared with a friend the disruption of marriage and family. Divorce has become so widespread in the 1990s that over one-third of children today will experience a parental divorce. Divorce is often misconstrued as a circumscribed or terminal event that ends when the judge drops the gavel (Teyber 5).
Most children are shocked and surprised by the separation, even though it is clear to the parents that the decision was not sudden. Boys tend to find the initial separation time more upsetting than girls do (Naylor 33). Even if there was a great deal of fighting, tension, or unhappiness in the home, children do not want the divorce to take place. After the first year of marital problems, parents tend to see more anger, fear, depression, and guilt in their children. Most children feel like they are to blame for their parents getting divorced. Most children are egocentric. They believe that the world revolves around them. They feel that everything that goes on in the world is happening just for them or is caused by them. As the child grows and matures, the egocentric attitude tends to fade away (Naylor 66). Preschoolers often react to their parents separation with both anger and sadness. Boys become noisier, angrier, and restless. Boys will not get along with their friends as well as before and they tend to sit alone more. Girls will be angry too, but most become little adults . Girls start to become overly concerned with being neat and good. They will tend to lecture or scold other children as if they were a parent or teacher. Both boys and girls at this young age will feel sad, cry more often, and become more demanding (Schneider 101).
Divorce is especially difficult for six-to eight-year-old children. Boys around this age are usually upset by the breakup and will usually be more distressed than girls. The main reaction of these children is sadness. They are most likely to cry openly about the marital disruption and will often be sad and weepy (Wilymz). When one parent leaves the home, the child usually feels rejected by him or her. The child also longs for the parent who is not in the home. Most of the children have lowered self-esteem,
depression, and a big decline in school performance due to the intense feeling of rejection (Blakeslee 74). The nine- to twelve-year-old children feel anger instead of sadness. These children will become very upset at both parents, especially the parent who initiated the separation. Strong gender differences have been found in school-aged children s reactions to divorce. Boys from divorced homes are more likely to be in conflict with their mothers and disobey them than boys from an intact home (80). School-aged girls from divorced families are more likely to function well and get along with their custodial mothers (81). The tendency for boys to be more aggressive and uncooperative both at home and at school seems to occur in part because ninety percent of children live with their mothers after divorce (Ahrons 56). An adolescent can respond very differently to his or her parents divorce. One-reason adolescents respond differently to the divorce is because they adjust to family separation better than younger children do (Neumann 95). Some adolescents show a positive spurt in response to the separation. The children become helpful to their parents and younger siblings during this family crisis. Their maturity can be seen as they help make family decisions, help around the house, and help take care of the younger siblings. Then, there are the adolescents that feel betrayed by the divorce (103). Some adolescents will grow farther apart from the family, act out his or her aggression sexually, become depressed, withdraw from friends, or lose their plans or goals for the future (104). Most of the time, the adolescents think about how the marital failure will influence their own future ability to a have a good marriage or their ability to go to college.
Along with the short-term reactions that children have, there are also long term reactions to the divorce. A few research studies have looked at the long-term effects of divorce on children five to ten years after the divorce, and when children of divorce are in their later 20s and early 30s. At every time period, a similar pattern emerges: about thirty percent are doing very well, about forty percent have mixed successes and problems, and about thirty percent are struggling with significant, enduring problems (Wilymz). More young adult men are effected by divorce instead of women. The sons that come from a divorced family tend to secure more anxiety, worry, insomnia, and physical complaints, and tend to be less involved with their own children. Divorce does not have to harm children or cause long-term problems. The same parenting skills that lead to good adjustment in intact families will lead to good adjustment in divorced in families (Ahrons 123). The quality of parenting you provide and your response to your child throughout the divorce are the most important factors of your child s adjustment (124).
When a child s parents get a divorce, the biggest fear the child experiences is the fear of losing both parents. Children are scared that the parent s love will not be there for them when they need it and their parents may leave or abandon them. Separation anxieties may be the most painful feelings that children and adults experience in life. When parents decide to divorce, the father usually moves out of the house and finds a new home for himself. The day of the move is almost always one of the most difficult times for the divorcing couple. The fact that the relationship is ending becomes a reality after months of just thinking and talking about it. Both spouses are caught up in their
own feelings of anger, sadness, disbelief, numbness, or relief. It is very common that the parents emotional reactions to what their child is going through (Teyber 133). Divorcing parents need to expect that young children will become anxious because their security is threatened. Both young boys and girls will express this heightened sense of insecurity through increase bed wetting, thumb sucking, fear of the dark, nightmares, and clinging
(Hillman). Parents should find a way to alleviate the feeling of insecurity from their children, or the anxiety symptoms can develop into aggressive defiance or depression . Divorcing parents should learn to recognize patterns of behavior that signal their children s separation anxieties or fear of being left. Most children will start to have trouble with everyday partings that never bothered them before. Any departure of the parent, even for a brief time, intensifies the child s fear of abandonment (Dean).
Adults usually respond to this kind of behavior with frustration and anger. The reaction of the parent is normal, but it only makes the bond between the parent and child worse. The frustrated parent will often become angry and threaten or punish the child. Then, the child will feel rejected and pushed away from the parent when the need to feel close is important (Schneider 134). It is crucial for the parent to understand the child s fear or life can become miserable for both of them.
Another important thing divorcing parents can do for their child is to honor and protect their relational ties to both parents (Blakeslee 202). Children will be greatly concerned about their ability to handle physical and emotional access to their parents, and it is important for both parents to help the child continue a secure attachment. A few marriages break up because one parent is behaving irresponsibly toward a child and the
other parent must protect the child from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. In other families, abuse that has been occurring secretly may be uncovered during the period of crisis that often surrounds the current break up (205).
The most common person to commit sexual abuse, is the stepfather. When a father molests children, alcoholism is usually a common factor. The most disturbing fact about child sexual abuse is that in three-fourths of all cases the perpetrator knows the child well and is a family member, close family friend, or member of the extended family. Violation of trust is one of the most essential characteristics of sexual abuse (Schafer). If a child is being abused, it is important for the parent to find out as soon as possible. Yong children will re-enact with dolls or in their drawings and play what has been done to them. Parents should pay close attention whenever children make such drawing or use dolls in sexually explicit play (Schafer). The biggest problem with sexual abuse is that adults do not want to believe that this abuse could actually be occurring and tend to ignore the signs (Schneider 158).
The most frequent form of abuse is emotional. Children are emotionally abused when they are repeatedly exposed to parental fights. It is very upsetting to the child when their parents continually fight and threaten one another in front of them. A lot of parents emotionally abuse their children by making them choose sides, carry messages back and forth, or by blaming children and making them feel responsible for marital conflicts (Neumann 217). The consequences last for a lifetime for children whose parents repeatedly yell at them in hatred or disgust or tell them they are stupid, worthless, or bad. If parents find that they have lost control of themselves and said hurtful things like this,
they should apologize to their children, tell them it is not true, and realize that they made a mistake (219). Overall, parents need to reassure children that their important bond to both parents will remain constant.
Overall, children need their mothers and fathers. The shared act of conception entitles children to both a mother and a father. However, the natural birthright to two parents is lost for most children in the aftermath or divorce (Neumann 235). In nine out of ten cases of divorce, mothers receive primary physical custody of the children and visitation for fathers only every other weekend still occurs. For most noncustodial fathers, divorce not only ends their marriage but also their participation as a parent (240). One national survey found that forty-nine percent of children had not seen their father even once in the past twelve months, and fewer than one child in six saw their fathers once a week (Dean). Fathers tend to see more of their children in the first two years after the breakup, but, as years go by, fathers generally see less of their children, especially after they remarry and have new children. Due to the belief that women, not men, should take care of the children, many people are not concerned by fathers unavailability . Although, researchers have shown that one of the best factors of a child s adjustment to divorce is the extent of the father s continuing involvement (Schafer).
Divorced families are more and more common throughout the United States. Only 62% of the adult population are married. Today, couples get married at a younger and younger age. Teenagers around the age of 18 to 20 have increased the percentage of getting married from 20% to 40% (Teyber 189). The teenagers rush into things because
they think they are in love, or they have found the one . Other teenagers get married because they are expecting a child and they feel that they have to get married. When couples get married because they are bringing a child into the world, they should worry about being happy. The child isn t going to grow up happy if his or her parents are always fighting. Even if they stay together for the child, they will end up getting divorced later down the road. Once the child grows up and he or she starts living on his or her own, there will be nothing left to hold the marriage together if love is not there (Ahrons 167).
If the love is not there and you both are unhappy, the best thing to do is get a divorce. Why spend half your life with someone, being unhappy and making others around you unhappy? (Wilymz).