It is a well known fact that many marriages can end in divorce nowadays, however there is some room for discussion on it’s effects on children. Some can come out of a divorce just fine with the proper help and mediation, but what is best? Some children can come out with adverse experiences and it can show some negative effects later in life. This post will look at four sources, two of each examining both sides of the argument; that some children can come out fine and some can be put through too much.
Divorce is inherently harmful to children articles:
- In the Article, “Parental Bickering, Screaming, and Fighting: Etiology of the Most Negative Effects of Divorce on Children from the View of the Children,” from the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage has a strong stance that divorce, especially nasty ones, lead children to having problems later on in life. They wrote, “Parental discord intensified normal reactions and perpetuated negative reactions of various intensities from the children, as well as hindered their adjustment to the crisis.” This shows that when children see parental fighting and frustration, it can lead to them having their own issues with communication and feelings in relationships future on. I think this article is very credible, as it was written from interviews with real children of divorce and written by a credible therapist with a Phd.
2. In the article, “The Psychology of Divorce: A Lawyer’s Primer, Part 2: The Effects of Divorce on Children.” written Sandford Portnoy in The American Journal of Family Law. This is a very credible source because it comes from a lawyer’s perspective and keeps many more aspect in mind than the last article. It states, “Aside from psychological problems including high levels of depression, anxiety and low self esteem, children of divorced parents also exhibit, adolescent delinquent behavior, lower academic performance compared to children from intact families, and marital instability.” This shows that they are primed for poor coping skills and behavioral problems. Of course, with the right therapy and the right counselor, this could not happen, but many people lack resources and knowledge about these problems and how to overcome them.
Children can come through divorce without serious consequences articles:
- In an article written by three researchers and accredited counselors published in the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage they studied the effects of an adjustment to divorce program which included 60 7-9-year-old children who participated with their parents. It stated that, “Based on specific behavioral criteria, pre- and post- testing revealed that children’s adjustment significantly improved after completing Kids’ Turn (the program).” The criteria to determine that conclusion consisted of reports of less conflict between children and parents as well as children’s ability to avoid participating in conflict-laden situations within their post-divorce family system. They also saw more effects in these children, they appeared more emotionally activated at the end of the program than at the beginning. They also had more reconciliation fantasies, greater awareness of distressing feelings regarding the divorce, and more sensitivity to being misunderstood by their parents. The authors concluded their program is effective in creating a greater awareness of children’ s role in the dynamics of the post-divorce family and their coping skills. However, while most of the attitudes, beliefs, and behavior changed in a positive direction, the authors cautioned us saying, “children may need more evaluation and continued support in addressing the strong feelings the program aroused in the participants.” Meaning the program significantly helped, but if there are more problems at large, then they will need more addressing, but overall, a child can come out of a divorce without being inherently damaged.
2. In the article, “Protecting Children From the Consequences of Divorce: A Longitudinal Study of the Effects of Parenting on Children’s Coping Processes” written for the magazine, Child Development they studied the effects between mothers and children post divorce using different coping methods and strategies. They said, “The three-wave prospective mediational analyses revealed that intervention-induced improvements in relationship quality led to increases in coping efficacy at 6 months and increases in coping efficacy and active coping at 6 years.” Their results are discussed in terms of pathways to adaptive coping and implications for the implementation of preventive interventions targeting coping. The researchers looked at the mother-child relationships 6 months and 6 years after the divorce and how their coping has changed or been reinforced. They found that those who had stronger bonds with their mother’s had better coping skills later on. This shows that with the right mediation and intervention, children can walk out of the divorces with good coping and relationship skills.
My conclusion from the evidence and articles provided is, children will inherently adapt to their either hostile or supportive environments within the divorce and family structure and then act accordingly. Eventually if these situations remain hostile and they do not get intervention, then the child will take these reactions and bad coping strategies and form them into a habit and thus effect their future situations with coping and relationships. On the other hand, if the child of divorce does get proper counseling and therapy, they can see and use effective and positive coping mechanisms and strategies in their future endeavors. Overall, I think this question is very circumstantial. A lot of factors in a child’s post-divorce coping depends on the intensity of the fighting, bickering, arguing, hostility, and the nature of the divorce. If a child see’s the negativity and inappropriate behaviors coming from their parents and does not get the proper counseling for it, they could have many damaging schema/ideas on love, marriage, relationships, and divorce. Overall, it could set the child up for a not-so-great life. However, if the child and family does get the right counseling and therapy, then the child can use and see good coping mechanisms and the right way to handle our feelings. After reading these studies and cases, I think that if a divorce isn’t handled well, then it can be inherently harmful to children, but it can be handled in a positive and professional manner and help the child in the long-run.