This is just a classic research paper for my sociology class - my choice of topic. Below, I have included what I have so far. Before I continue too far, I want to be sure that the topic and ideas are presented eloquently and make sense. I usually turn to my mom for this sort of thing - she is an English major. But given my topic, and her recent divorce, I wasn't very comfortable asking her.
Divorce and Children: For Better or For Worse?
Most Americans would agree that childhood and adolescence are undoubtedly some of the most trying periods in one's lifetime. During these times, youths face mounting academic pressures, pubertal changes, and more complicated social lives - all of which contribute to the stressful nature of maturation. Today, about 40% of children will experience divorce, and in turn an even more difficult childhood. On top of to the stresses that already exist in an adolescent's daily life, children from divorced families are exposed to parental tensions, increasing financial issues, and major changes to the life they are used to. Researchers have concluded that the short-term effects of divorce on children are, for the most part, negative. It obviously takes time for young people to adjust to their new lifestyle and accept their parents' separation. But the long-term effects that divorce has on children are not as clear.
Numerous researchers today have set out to determine the long-term effects of divorce, and have reported various findings. Some studies argue that people who see their parents separate before maturity will experience lasting effects. These may include relationship issues later in life, delayed development, or psychological problems. Contrarily, some argue that most children are extremely adaptable. Initially, most will be negatively impacted by the experience. But they will eventually develop and employ tools to cope with the changes caused by divorce, and end up living life as well-adjusted and normal adults. A few arguments even suggest that, in the long run, divorce has a positive impact on children because it removes much of the environmental tension and conflict associated with a failing marriage. So the question remains - is divorce better or worse for children in the long run?
The first thing to consider when observing the impacts of divorce is the practice itself. Divorce almost always refers to the legal dissolution of a marriage. People may choose to pursue a divorce for many reasons. The most common reasons today include adultery, financial issues, or simply differences that cannot be resolved. While divorce seems like a reasonable solution to problems such as these, both the law and society frowned upon the practice until quite recently. Because a vast majority of Americans were Christian, divorce was largely unacceptable on a social level. The synoptic gospels of the Bible highlight the sanctity of marriage and condemn its dissolution through divorce, and those of the Christian faith followed suit. Furthermore the legal system in many states required proof of "fault" before granting a divorce, making the process a drawn out and difficult one.
But towards the end of the 19th century, the incidence of divorce began a steady increase. With the greater incidence of divorce came a greater acceptance of it, and with greater acceptance more people felt comfortable ending their marriages in this way. By the 1960's, divorce rates were reaching all-time highs, and continuing to increase.
Today that increase has plateaued, and we are left with nearly one half of all marriages in the United States ending in a divorce. Many researchers have looked to determine why this trend is so rampant. Donna L. Franklin cites tension caused changes to the traditional marriage exchange, in which a husband offers economic resources in exchange for a wife's "social and domestic" services. Frank Furstenberg attributes the exceedingly high rate to higher standards for gratification in a relationship, which push adults to seek "more fluid and flexible arrangements". Now, with the causes of divorce rates being investigated, the next step is to study the effects. Key topics regarding these effects may include economic impacts, shifts in lifestyle, and changes to the family as a whole. all of which are interrelated.