The Impact of Divorce on Children Under the Age Of Eighteen
Benjamin D. Hinely
Liberty University Online
PSYC 210 – D29
Divorce is the act of separating two married individuals legally and absolves both parties of marital obligation. It is, by its nature, destructive and stressful. Pulling a family apart rarely happens along clean lines and children can often be left confused and permanently effected emotionally and mentally. Depression is a major result in children. As are self esteem issues regarding self worth in relation to possible future marriage partners. In addition, there are other general relational problems. Children previously affected by divorce are more likely ...view middle of the document...
1987). Many children of divorced parents wind up having psychological and physiological problems as a result. It is the stress of the dismantling of a family that leads to many of the issues. Documented troubles run the gamut from depression to low self-esteem. Outside changes also contribute to these problems. Changes in living arrangements (moving house, city or even state) can occur. The loss of friends as a result the moving is possible (Denis, A. T., & Melinda, M. G., 2009).
Counselors have reported seeing the stages of the mourning process in children. They don’t necessarily follow any particular order, but these stages are: denial, depression, anger and acceptance. (McGuire, P. 1987). In denial, the fact of the divorce is being rejected; “This isn’t happening”. With depression, negative thoughts take hold. It is here where suicide may be an issue with older children. Anger happens when the child blames one parent or the other (or both) and lashes out at them. And the acceptance stage occurs when the child comprehends the reality of the separation and moves on. Basically, it is as if the child is taking the divorces almost as if a death has occurred.
A contributing factor this emotional turmoil is a loyalty at odds between the parents. A child may not know who exactly they are supposed align with. This uncertainty may lead to a feeling of instability and doubt as to what the proper response really is (McGuire P. 1987). This may lead to emotional outbursts. For example, a son my lash out at a father without really knowing why the separation occurred.
Research shows that the effect divorce has on a child may depend a lot on their age (Berger, 2011). Younger children tend to not to have the same effects as their adolescent counterparts. A preschooler may have troubles with increased bouts of crying and tantrums and suffer from potty training setbacks. But a teenager will be more likely to have bouts of depression (Berger, 2011, Pg. 620) and be excessively aggressive (Ingunn Størksen et. al. 2005). This isn’t to say, however, that the effects in either age group are any less serious or will not have the same long lasting outcomes.
It is interesting that gender, it seems, plays a role in how a child reacts to a divorce. Depression does affect both boys and girls, but studies have shown that female children of divorce have higher rates of depression and internalization problems (Ingunn Størksen et. al. 2005). This may be due in part to the earlier mental development of girls. In homes where the father leaves, a male child is more likely to have issues controlling anger and hostility (Ingunn Størksen et. al. 2005).
An inability or diminished capacity to properly cope with stress and stressful situations is another possible effect. Anxiety rates are higher in children of divorced parents (Peris, T., & Emery, R. 2004). Attention is another reduced ability (Ingunn Størksen et. al. 2005), affecting home life as well as school and...