Now, a good number of people are not taking matters related to divorce with the weight that they deserve, with many of them not considering the consequences of these actions, more so to the individual who are close to them. Divorce refers to the legal dissolution of a marriage contract. In the United States, at least four out of ten marriages end up in dissolution, which is a very big number. Estimates show that there are more than 59 million divorced couples in the United States, with more than 31 million of these having children together (Marriage and Divorce, Statista). This means that at least half of the children in these families experience divorce or separation of parents (Children-and-divorce.com).
Although many people view it as a one-off thing, ending a marriage is a lengthy process that takes time and has several effects to all members of the family especially the children, in almost all aspects of their lives. There are several stages that are involved in divorce, with the first one being emotional divorce that involves the development of negative feelings towards each other. With time, hatred overcomes the love and affection the partners had, creating a way for legal divorce. The latter is the certification that is used to declare that the two people are no longer in a marriage. Economic divorce, where the couple is required to share their economic benefits and belongings that had accumulated when they were married, comes next. The next stage is where the parents share the responsibilities over the children born during the marriage, which includes custody and child support settlement. Changing of the social circle after moving to different community follows, before the last phase where one has to adjust to being single. For children born during a marriage that ends in divorce, they experience all these stages together with their parents, and some have a very hard time coping.
Most married people turn to divorce when they have issues in their marriages. These problems could be made worse by the fact that most people who get into marriages have children without prior planning or having the understanding of each other before they add another individual into the relationship. As such, there is the need to look at the adverse effects hat divorce has on children since they are forced to suffer the consequences of the bad decisions that are made by their parents. There are detrimental effects of divorce to these children, who are forced to undergo both emotional and behavioral torment, develop negative attitudes towards marriage, and having to reduce their standards of living.
The first effect of divorce on children is the emotional and psychological torment that they are forced to go through (Joseph). Among the situations that the child goes through during include anger towards themselves and their parents, feelings of betrayal, fear, abandonment, depression, rejection as well as loneliness. They also face difficulties adapting to new surroundings, especially if they have to move out of their home. These effects could affect their performance in school and social activities.
There is the development of guilt among some children, especially those that are convinced that they caused the divorce. Due to cognitive inabilities of the child, they feel that they either were the cause of the arguments their parents had or that they could have attempted to stop them. Failure to adjust to new surroundings could facilitate these feelings, which could ultimately lead to depression (Joseph).
Following a divorce, the child misses out on the role of either parent, something that could affect their growth and development (Pickhardt). Each of the parents has a very important role to play in bringing up the child and has a unique position in the lives of their children. Or instance, some parents are role models, offer a shoulder to lean on, offer a helping hand, and offer guidance to their children. More often, the male parents are not awarded child custody, meaning that a majority of the children live with their mothers. Leaving either of the parents out of the process of development of the child makes them feel like they are not important and have been deserted. Moreover, these parents lack either a mother or father figure while growing up, who could have offered much-needed guidance. Male children have different responses from their female counterparts, with the former tending to be violent and rebellious, while the latter tend to engage in sexual activities at earlier stages than those from families that are intact.
Children who experience all the steps of divorce tend to develop negative attitudes towards marriage and relationships, with some either loosing trust in the institution or being over-attached to their spouses in an attempt to get the love that they did not get while growing up (Rodgers and Pryor). However, most of them have little expectations or trust for their spouses since they experienced a lack of honesty in the relationship of their parents.
Often, children who are brought up by divorced parents lack an understanding of what is involved in marriage; thus, they are often not aware of what they should offer and expect from their partners (D’Onofrio). The main reason for this has they have not had one-on-one interaction with a working marriage where each of the partners has had roles to play in bringing up a family. They also are not aware of their roles as parents, considering that most of them have grown to see a single parent bringing them up. Besides, they are not able to solve most of their marital problems, considering the have not grown to experience this. Often, most of them turn to divorce, as their parents had done, without attempting alternative ways of conflict resolution.
The other challenge that they have is the fear that their marriages could face the same fate as that of their parents; thus, many are always on the alarm. When custody is given to the parent of the opposite gender, the child lacks a role model who is close to them. For instance, in most cases custody is given to the mothers, meaning that male children often do not have a male figure to look up to and seek guidance from.
The decline in standards of living, as well as wellbeing of the child, is another effect of divorce, considering that in intact marriages the spouses often pool their earnings together to offer the best to the children that are born. However, in divorced families, even if there is child support, the standards of living can hardly be compared since the other parent has other needs to cater for while that of the parent with custody could not be enough (Rodgers and Pryor). The child is deprived off some of the comforts that they had received while in an intact relationship. Often, the mothers are awarded custody over their children after the divorce; considering that they do not have as much capacity to earn as the fathers, the amount of disposable income that will be used to bring up the child is low (D’Onofrio).
On the other hand, there are positive effects of divorce, especially in marriages where there is a constant abuse of spouses and children. In such cases, children are relieved with the divorce, where they develop feelings of relief, happiness, and security. Constant arguments are distressful to the children, and ending these through a divorce could help increase peace among the children. However, this relief is often short-lived since the long-term effects of separation of roles of the parents are felt.
Reducing these Effects
Minimizing the negative effects that are brought by divorce is usually a very tough call, to the parents together with professional offering social services. As discussed, there are several effects of divorce on the children; thus, step to address the negative effects should be focused to satisfy the needs of the child in question. Intense interventions are required to address severe challenges to some children, who might require the specialized attention of trained physicians or psychologists. For the less severe cases, help could be derived from peers, close associates, as well as the environment (McKay).
In most cases, mothers are awarded child support over their children. Although in most cases fathers are asked to pay for child support, often these proceeds are not received by the mother. Also, it is noted that most mothers tend to experience a downward turn in their financial situation after divorcing while the fathers tend to experience an upward trend. Coupled with the high rate on noncompliance to the child support requirements, single mothers have a tough time taking care of the children. Although the wellbeing of the child is not entirely based on the financial situation, there is the need to enhance the level of self-sufficiency of these single mothers so that they are in a position to offer stable custodial homes. Moreover, having a better financial situation would help the child adjust much faster, considering they could have an awesome environment to live in and access to several benefits.
Considering that conflicts between the parents have a major impact on the adjustment of the child, parents should make sure that they manage their communication well. If possible, parents should avoid conflicts between themselves, especially in front of the children. Accomplishing this could be very hard, considering that there could be hostilities between the parents. In instances where one of the parents is not willing to reduce the conflict, seeking sole custody could help, or a provision of no visitation could be placed. This could be a viable solution, especially if the parent has demonstrated hostility or physical abuse to either the minor or the other parent. Another strategy for avoiding the effects of conflict on the child is having a third party take care of the minor on behalf of the two parents until they have sorted out their differences. The third party, usually the police, relatives or close associates, will offer a link between the two parents and the child; thus, reducing the interaction of the parents with the child.
As much as reducing conflict between the parents is important, increasing communication is very important as well. The two parents should communicate between themselves and with the children (Leon). In most cases, children are left out of the divorce process, yet it affects them. In most cases, children find out about their parents’ divorce through means or instances that would facilitate the increase in negative effects of divorce. A majority of the children who are affected by divorce are not informed of the separation until it happened while a large number of them are not aware of the reasons. It is vital that the parent communicates with their children, to explain the reasons and timing of the divorce. Parents need also to be in a position to discuss on the course of action, to make sure that the children are given the best care.
After parents have divorced, there is the need to avail emotional support to the children, as a way of minimizing the negative consequences that result from divorce. Informal support could be offered by associates and members of the family, or specialized attention could be sort from trained or experienced counselors. With the development of technology, we based techniques for counseling are also available. Peers would play a very important role in the support programs, especially if they had experienced these circumstances in their lives. Moreover, intra-informal networks could play an important role towards the reduction of stress levels of the child. This assists them to cope with the consequences of the marital disruption. The environment could also offer an opportunity for sufficient support (McKay).
The systems of education could also facilitate in reducing the effects in a number of ways, such as the provision of both direct and indirect services that ensure prevention to these children. Individuals or groups like institutional counselors could help provide the direct services while collective therapy for all affected children could be very effective. Indirect services could also help avoid the negative effects, such as educating the members of staff and other children on how to deal with the affected children to help them cope with the situation. Children who are affected by divorce could also be provided with facilities, curriculum changes as well as resources that help them cope with their situations (Leon).
Most of these interventions are focused on making sure that the child is alleviated from the negative impacts, misconceptions, feelings, as well as problems they are facing. The groups offers both education and therapy to students in groups of between five and ten, are often located in schools or social centers like churches where there is a similarity in goals and approaches. Their main aim is usually to clarify some misconceptions, offer an appropriate place for the children to work out their difficulties, for the development of skills that upset negative attitudes and situations, as well as to boost the ability to communicate between the child and their parents. Among the techniques that are applicable in these groups are role playing, utilization of audiovisual gadgets, narratives, tasks for solving social challenges, art, studying holy books, as well as creating sensitization programs.
Divorce has a number of detrimental effects to the children, more so emotionally, physically as well as financially, with most of these effects being long term. Couples that are in marriages that are in trouble, more so if they have children, should attempt alternative strategies that would make their relationship work rather than turning to divorce. In the event that divorce can hardly be avoided, the parents should consider the needs of the parents, and not involve them in their conflicts. Then, the parent that has custody over the child should make sure they have a positive role model to watch over the child, to offer them support, guidance, and protection. To reduce self-blame and doubt, the parents should always assure the children that they love and adore them, and show this through actions. This means that the parents should put their differences together and strive to give the best to the child, including giving them affection, love and care. To aid quick recovery after the divorce, the children should be counseled by a psychologist, to make sure that they quell their anxieties, frustrations and disbelief.
Reducing the level and intensity, or doing away with conflicts in a marriage reduces that chances that a child will suffer severe negative effects after the dissolution of their parents’ marriage. Moreover, empowering the mothers who are awarded custody to make sure that they are self-sustainable would help facilitate the stability of these children. Although the parents have decided to dissolve their marriage, it is also important that the child is allowed to associate with both parents, and each should play their role to the best interests of the child. However, this should be limited in the event there are conflict or intention to harm the child or either parent by the other. Before parents decide to call off their marriage, they should always seek alternative strategies to sort out their issues, for the best interest of the children. Lastly, they ought to seek support for their children who are affected by divorce, to make sure that the negative effects are dispelled.