How Divorce Negatively Effects Children
Children from divorced families have been proven to have detrimental effects in various areas of their life. For children to grow up and become healthy, happy, and successful individuals it is imperative that both parents cooperate and maintain a properly functioning relationship for the well-being of the child. The dissolution of a marriage and family is very upsetting and difficult for children especially when the relationship between the parents is tumultuous and highly dysfunctional.
Divorce negatively effects children in multiple ways. For example, children from divorced families struggle emotionally, socially, academically, and psychologically in comparison to their peers who come from a two-parent household (Masci). Although it is not better for parents to stay in a dysfunctional marriage to avoid divorce. What is best for children is for both parents to maintain a relationship and cooperate with one another to provide the child of their primary needs. For example, "Children need the love, care, and attention of both mother and father "(Ooms). When parents are able to perform as a team the children are better off and can benefit in, school, life, financial support of both parents, and the respect of both parents. (Ooms)
Children from divorce are found to have a higher risk of behavioral problems. For example, children from divorce have a juvenile incarceration rate that is 12 times higher in comparison to juveniles who don't have divorced parents (Masci). Children from divorce also more commonly have education problems and are more likely to repeat a grade in conjunction with struggling academically due to parental conflict and divorce. Parental conflict affects children greatly whether parents are divorced or together, studies show children as young as 6 months old can show signs of distress when exposed to parental fighting (Sutherland). When parents fight it has multiple negative effects on children. There is evidence of decreased cognitive performance, high risk of adolescent substance abuse, and increased risk of eating disorders when children are subjected to parental conflict (Morin).
There are also studies that state children from divorced go on to have trouble in adulthood building relationships and with intimacy. Children from divorce are found to have "results in more trouble with dating, more cohabitation, greater likelihood of divorce, higher expectations of divorce later in life, and a decreased desire to have children" (Fagan). Typically, children from divorced families move away from home at a higher rate than those from intact families, thrusting young adults out into the real world before they may be prepared for the new responsibilities. Children from divorce are found to have low trust in others which effects their relationship with others. The divorce of a child's parents causes them to have difficulty with intimate relationships in adulthood. Some problems are lack of trust, fear of rejection, and avoidance of commitment and marriage. It is also been proven that children from divorced families are twice as likely to get divorced themselves as well (Fagan).
Another thing that is affected when parents get divorced is the personal relationship between the parents and children which is another factor of divorce that is extremely damaging to children. After a divorce during the transitioning period parents are usually focused on their personal emotions and the new life and routine that must be built for survival. Therefore, the children and the emotional needs of the children can be forgotten. For example,
"Children in divorced families receive less emotional support, financial assistance, and practical help from their parents. Divorced homes show a decrease in language stimulation, pride, affection, stimulation of academic behavior, encouragement of social maturity, and warmth directed towards the children" (Fagan).
Mothers that are divorced are not as affectionate with their children and the father child relationship is affected as well when there is divorce. Children generally spend more time with their mothers after the divorce which causes a dissolution of the relationship between the father and child. "Divorced fathers are less nurturing, and more likely to drift away from younger children if denied legal custody at the time of the divorce" (Fagan).
Another aspect of divorce that results in upheaval and change for the children is when families blend and the dynamic changes again through remarriage or cohabitation. 25% of all children will be in a stepfamily (Masci). When families blend and step siblings and step parents are involved it causes anxiety for the children. For the child to build a new relationship with new family members when already grieving the loss of their nuclear family can be difficult. Also, "Children who experience three or more transitions in family structure are much more likely to divorce later in life, compared to children who did not experience such family transitions" (Fagan). Therefore, for parents to ensure the least amount of damage and change for their children they should take precaution in their intimate relationships.
There is much debate on whether or not it is better for children to remain in one home with the parent who was the main caregiver prior to the divorce or if it is in the best interest of the children to have two separate homes with each parent. One thing is certain and that is the children to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents. "Children need to spend real time with each of their parents, not just a few hours here or there, "(Masci). Many sources concur that it is important after a divorce for the children to have a relationship with both parents. Having the support, love, attention, care, and relationship with each parent is crucial for a child to avoid negative effects of divorce and the potential risks that come along with being from a divorced family. If the parents are able to communicate effectively and keep the rules and expectations of the child similar for both households a joint custody arrangement can be successful (Masci).
When parents are able to establish a healthy relationship post-divorce that is what is in the best interest of the children. It is always best if the marriage or relationship can be salvaged but a relationship that is violent or has abusive behaviors it is best for the relationship to end. There are many precautions parents can take to help aide the process of divorce for children so it is not as detrimental. If parents are able to cooperate with one another, communicate effectively, minimize conflict witnessed by the children, and make the process into new households a peaceful transition. Children need the love and care of both parents, and for that to be possible parents need to be cooperative and communicative with one another so their personal relationship doesn't affect the lives of their children.