Throughout the years, the amount of divorces in the U.S. has seemed to increase significantly. This has led parents to question whether or not divorce is the best option for their family in the long run. Divorce is not something that only affects the two people involved, but it can dramatically change the lives of their children, as well. As this question of whether or not divorce is the best decision for children of bickering parents began to surface, many people reacted by assuming the worst. Rumors began to spread that the children of divorced parents were worse off than if their parents had stayed together.
As I researched this topic, I found very different opinions on how divorce affects kids and, especially, how parents should handle their dilemma. I first stumbled upon the rumored negative affects that divorce seems to have on children, while reading “How Divorce Affects Children” by Dr. Robert Emery. He presented four points on how divorce impacts children and what parents can do to help their children through this difficult time. First, he addressed that in almost every situation, divorce is a stressful time for both the parents and the child/children. He said that sometimes the parent-child relationships can become strained or contact can become lost between one of the parents and the child. Dr. Emery presented the method of making the legal process go as smooth and stress-free as possible. This will significantly help the child make the adjustment to this dramatic change in their life quicker and easier. Dr. Emery also stated that divorce will often increase the risk of the child developing psychological and/or behavioral problems down the road, not to mention, a lack of motivation for school or other activities. Children can sometimes become depressed, anxious or overly responsible; where they end up wanting to care for their parents, instead of letting their parents care for them. Later in the article, Dr. Emery diseases the negative emotional impacts divorce can have on children and how it can still affect them in adulthood. He refereed to a survey, done by himself and Lisa Laumann-Billings, in which college students who had experienced their parents divorce, as recent as three years ago, were asked to choose the description that represented their current emotional pain level from the divorce. Although, she held less resentment/pain than others, almost all the students believed that their life would have been different if their parents had stayed together. This does not necessarily mean it would have been a better life though, as we discuss this later.
In the second article I read, titled “The Impact of Divorce on Young Children and Adolescents”, the negative impacts of divorce on children were given based on their particular age and Dr.Carl Pickhardt discussed how they might react in different ways to their parents’ separation. He explained how a child’s world is very dependent on his/her parents or legal guardians. Their social and everyday activities revolve around what the parent is doing or wants them to do. An adolescent’s (or teen) life, however, is a more independent one and the circle of friends they form becomes a big part of their life along with their parents and other outside influences. Dr. Pickhardt goes on to describe the different ways a child and an adolescent will react in a divorce. For a younger child, seeing the love of their parents be broken by a legal document shakes their trust. The child will often feel confused, as they visit each parent separately in different households. This change in routine, can create a sense of instability and anxiousness within the child’s life, which will often lead to the child crying at bed time, breaking practiced toilet training, wetting the bed, and more frequent crying and tantrums. Although, most of these anxieties will fade over time as the child adjusts to life with divorced parents, this process can still be very traumatic for the child stuck in the middle of a difficult separation.
In one of the Huffington posts, titled “7 Ways Divorce Affects Kids, According to the Kids Themselves” seven different responses were given from children (young and old) of parents who had gotten divorced in their life. Many of the negative affects it had on the children, seemed to be either minor or temporary and the article focused on both the negative and somewhat positives that can come from a divorce. Some of the children who were interviewed said when their parents first got divorced, it was a very hard experience for them. They often wanted to blame their parents for putting them through this and for many, having to go back and forth between different houses was a hard concept to grasp and to get used to. Although, the process of divorce can be a confusing and hurtful time for the kids, something good can come from it. One girl said that although, it was distressing at first to see her parents divorce, she was happy to see them thrive afterwards. She said her dad seemed more full of life and energy after the divorce and both parents were, overall, more content with their lives. One person said that they were relieved once their parents finally got divorced, even though they (the child) had to wait until their early 20’s until it happened.
In another Huffington post, titled “Why a Good Divorce is Better Than a Bad Marriage for Kids” multiple points are given as to why getting a divorce and working out the issues of that situation is much better than putting your kids through a life of arguments, fighting, and emotional instability under one roof. One of the points the article made was that even though, yes, divorce will be difficult for the children, it is much better than living in an aggressive, combative home, full of anger and resentment for most of their childhood. Many parents stay together for the kids sake and will decide to divorce once the children are adults. As the article points out, this may not be the best decision for the children’s sake. When parents decide to divorce, they are an example to their children, in a positive way, showing them that they value personal happiness. In this way, the children can learn from their parents’ actions that it is important to be happy in life, even though it might mean making hard desicions about their future.
In all four of these articles, it is shown that divorce is not an easy thing to go through as a family, especially the confused children in the middle of it all. I believe, however, as the Huffington post articles suggest, that if the parents work together to make things go as smooth as possible for the child and for themselves, good can come from divorce. In the end, the parents who had to make a hard decision about their futures, choose their own happiness, which doesn’t mean they will neglect their child’s happiness and well-being. I believe that a family can make it through divorce and come out the other end (although separated) stronger and happier than ever.