There are many cases of divorce in contemporary societies. This means that there are equally many children who are being subjected to the separation of their familial ties that include both parents. When parents feel that they no longer love one another, they believe that the only logical thing to do is to separate and to eventually divorce. Children lose their sense of family following the divorce of their parents. This is because they do not only lose their family, their home but their entire way of life as they have always known it. Many researchers have concluded that divorce influences the behavior of the affected children. However, the level of distressed that a child undergoes before, during, and after a divorce period usually depend on various aspects. The main determinants regarding the extent how the child will be affected include the circumstances under which the parents seek to dissolve their marriage, the age and gender of the child, the extent of their understanding, and how much both parents support the child. Although children that are subjected to divorce encounter different experiences they usually behave in a way that is predictable as they undergo emotional and social turmoil.
Emotional and Behavioral Changes
The emotional and behavior alterations in children are usually common during the period when their parents are quarrelling and separating. This is primarily because the children may become insecure as they lose the close care of both parents. Research has shown that although the emotional reactions among children that encounter divorce vary, they perceive the period of divorce as very stressful. The emotional state of children before and after the divorce usually ranges from anger to apprehension to guilt and regret. Such emotional changes basically trigger the behavioral change. Among the most common behavioral changes include bad temper and changes in the eating and sleeping patterns. As for teenage children, they may become disorderly and portray their disapproval and distress through misbehaving. They may also become withdrawn and subsequently find it hard to concentrate on various activities in school and elsewhere.
Anti-social activities among children who have experienced divorce are persistent. This is usually the case because the parents are no longer able to work as a team while monitoring the behavior of their children. As such, the parents are less aware of their children’s activities leading to a considerably lower parenting quality. Accordingly, children are likely to participate in dangerous activities such as drug abuse, petty crimes, and even early sexual activities. In this regard, an increase in the rate of divorce has generally led to diminished children’s wellbeing (McGuinness, 2006, p. 2). Children may blame one of the parents for the breakdown of the family relationship leading to them being angry at one parent. The unfamiliar family composition after a divorce affects the socialization ability of a child. Socialization challenges are sometimes made worse by the fact that a child may have to leave their home and change their school because the parents are forced to live separately (P. 17). It is however notable that children that end up being raised by a parent of the same gender may adopt quickly to their new situation that those who are raised by a parent of the opposite gender.
Academic Performance and Loss of Previously Learnt Skill
During and after the period of divorce the grades of children may start to drop. Statistically, this probability has been experienced more among the male children as compared to their female counterparts. Divorce affects the manner in which a child perceives their relationship with the parents. Accordingly, a child may begin to break previous familial boundaries just to see how their parents would react. Merrill observes that sons seem to become more detached from their biological families when they reach adulthood, especially after marrying. On the other hand, daughters do not have difficulties reaching out to their biological families, perhaps because they are expected to be kin keepers (Merrill, 2011, p. 71). Children may also begin to perceive their future differently following a divorce. In some instances, a child may pay less attention to their studies in favor of trying out other activities as a way of trying to halt their maturing process. Young children may particularly lose learned skills after experiencing a divorce. For instance, children as young as four years may lose their ability to regulate their emotional skills. Such children may also start behaving as if they are much younger thus experience bedwetting, nightmares, and may also become disobedient. However, it is worth noting that the skill loss is usually common among the young children.
Regarding the relationship between parents and adult children, it affects the quality of marriage in return. This is because the adult children are forced to play their part as parents through modeling and eventually learn to align with the formation of the families of their children. Commenting on the intergenerational relations in the contemporary American society, Merrill observes that families are not as individualized as before. She further opines that the nuclear families are not so nuclear (p. 124). Consequently, for families that have different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, children who are married usually take into consideration parental concerns into their married life. Such consideration may impact negatively on the marital life of a married child to the extent of separation and even divorce with their spouses (Brodkin, 2005, p. 33). This aspect is pervasive in cases where the spouses do not have a cordial relationship with their in-law parents. According to Merrill, such occurrences affect the intergenerational relationships. In the wake of many immigrants into the United States from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, Merrill’s observations provide an important point of departure. The information goes a long way towards informing a better understanding regarding divorce and relationship of couples and its effects on their respective families.
Lasting Effects of Divorce on Children
It is apparent that divorce leaves many children susceptible as they face the future that may very well be riddled with uncertainty. The parental relationship usually nurtures a child’s the logic of community. As such, when faced with divorce, the communal sense is basically eroded and the child’s anxiety increases thereby influencing the ability of the child to cope with the future. Accordingly, divorce is not just a challenging period in the future of a child but is a complex occurrence that has lasting implications on the life of a child’s wellbeing, their relationship with God and with others (Floyd, 2011, p. 421).
There are many aspects that affect children that are subjected to a divorce that may not always be apparent. One of the most important characteristic of children that are raised by both parents in a cordial home is their sense of security. It is very challenging for a child to sustain that sense of security when the parents quarrel and even more difficult to maintain that feeling when their parents’ divorce. The traumatic events that children undergo during the divorce render them vulnerable to the point where they are unable to nurture and deal with their own relationships. Children that have experienced the divorce of their parents usually develop the urge of being appreciated or wanted and in some instances develop a lopsided view about what a healthy relationship should be like. Accordingly, children may resent their parents because they may feel that their parents have always cheated them about the parents’ love for them. Divorces may also lead to financial strain as a parent that ends up with the child may experience challenges dealing with the demanding multiple responsibilities, this have negative effects on the child. As Zhylyevskyy observes, strong enforcement regarding obligations of child support can decrease the occurrence of parental conflicts and divorce by a significant percentage (Zhylyevskyy, 2012, p. 917). The children react to the negative effects by expressing or internalizing certain behaviors that show outright disapproval of the divorce or intended separation. As such, the distressing events that are triggered by a divorce have the ability to scar the life of a child for life.
Children take a long time to get used to the idea that their parents are divorced. No matter how fierce or tense the relationship between parents is, children always hold on to the hope that they will resolve their differences. As such, children often have mixed feelings about their parents’ separation and continuously wish that their parents will reunite. Whatever the case, both parents have a very important role to play in the life of their children.
Brodkin, A (2005) Helping a Child When Parents divorce. Scholastic parent & Child 112(4), P.
Floyd, S. (2011) The Children of Divorce. Christian Education Journal. 8(2), p. 421.
McGuinness, T. (2006). Marriage, Divorce, and Children. Journal of Psychosocial nursing and
mental health services 44(2), p. 17.
Merrill, D. (2011). When Your Children Marry: How Marriage Changes Relationships with Sons and Daughters. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Zhylyevskyy, O. (2012). Spousal Conflict and Divorce. Journal of Labor Economics 30(4), p.