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Sociology: Literature Review



Abstract

Researchers have given multiple perspectives on how divorce affects children and what the family lawyer needs to do in such a scenario. The impact of divorce on the relationship of the parents with their children after years of marriage and also the impact on the children when a parent remarries were researched. The findings were that the parental system impacted the binuclear family even 20 year after the divorce exerting a strong influence of the quality of relationships within the family systems. The research indicated that children who reported their parents as cooperative also had better relationships with their nuclear family. About a third of the students whose one parent remarried said they experienced stressful situations than even the divorce itself. Of those whose both parents remarried, two thirds said that their father’s remarriage was more stressful than their mothers. If the relationship with the divorced father got worse, then the students said that they also had a stressful relationship with their nuclear family.

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The Effects of Divorce on Children

Research conducted for the last five decades indicates that this is a field that has the most impact on the perception of young children. There has been a changing trend in a way the wider field of divorce has been perceived by fathers, mothers and children. During the periods between 1950s and 1970s, a lot of misconceptions were held dear within this paradigm. In essence, a particular spouse seeking for divorce had to provide evidence of his or her partner committing a marital offense. This resulted into most divorcees being stigmatized. This did not stop at the parents, children from such families were considered outcast within the society. These children were prone to fail in school, be delinquent, and develop psychological problems. Over time, things changed from provision of evidence against a particular person so that non-fault divorce was incorporated within the field. This move has transformed the perception of society about children from divorced families. Such children can now be seen as resilient and able to cope. This article takes a multidimensional approach to evaluate the effects of divorce on the children affected. It is critical to consider the perception of such children on how divorce is either positively or negatively impacting on them.

The Child’s Perception

A lot of surveys have been conducted in this field to assess the point of view of children on effects of divorce. For instance, in 2009, the GordonPoll Youth Survey carried out research on more than 1000 teenagers aged between 14 and 18 years. The main focus was to assess their opinion on divorce and family problems based on their attitudes, thoughts and feelings. To minimize cases of bias, the survey team used children from both divorced families and married homes. According to the results received, it was a general perspective that children want their parents to stay together. However, in case they cannot stay together, these teenagers felt that parents should keep children out of their conflict. Children feel that divorce is painful and shameful; and they do not want to be caught in the middle of the wrangles. Furthermore, they asserted that whenever they lead their lives without parents, they look at life from a different perspective. Essentially, they become more independent and strong (Jolivet, 2011).

After divorce, young children feel that both parents have a right to take care of them. This supports the results that indicated that children brought up as a result of divorce lead a normal life. Such young people fall within the normal range of psychological and social adjustment after divorce. However, this does not mean that children from divorced families are comfortable. Other researches indicate that the manner in which parents handle divorce could have potentially negative implications in the long run. Divorce emanating from spirited conflicts from parent kills the support to children. This is because conflicting parents lose economic resources. Adjustment issues on the side of children have resulted from inter-parental conflicts that touch on children related issues: children custody, support, and children upbringing practices (Jolivet, 2011).

Potential Effects

According to most researches conducted in this field, it is clear that impacts of chronic conflict on children result in increased stress, insecurity, and agitation. There are as well cases of shame as children blame themselves for being the main cause of their parents’ conflicts and this brings about great guilt. Ultimately, children will develop an increased sense of hopelessness since they fear for their personal physical safety. They are rejected out of the negligence of their parents during the conflict that eventually leads to divorce. In addition to such issues, available literature reveals the impact of high-conflict divorce on children as inclined on behavioral and emotional adjustment. It is possible for these children to lack support when it concerns their education. As a result, it leads to early marriages, staying together before marriage as well as characteristics that can indicate a lower commitment to marriage (Ahrons, 2007).

Cases of infidelity and problems of anger management have a strong bearing on children from divorced families. Other literature compiled to draw a comparison between boys and girls reveals that the effects on boys are usually immediate and devastating. This research showed that boys tend to be aggressive, disruptive, acting out behavior and developmentally susceptible. This is as opposed to girls who tend to show the impacts less immediate over a specific period of time. However, this culminates in a variety of negative characteristics as such children approach adolescence. With regard to girls, they may decide to run away from home, drop out of school, and engage in sexual malpractices at an early stage.

According to Dr. Paul R. Amato form Pennsylvania State University, children who grow up with both parents that are stable exhibit a higher standard of living. This is because the children receive more effective parenting based on the cooperation of co-parenting from their parents. This implies that such children will be more emotionally attached to their parents and will experience less or no stressful events and situations in their lifetime from parents. As a result, it is proposed that interventions geared toward reducing divorce and encouraging stable families may help increase a health population within any society (Jolivet, 2011).

Parental Alienation Syndrome

Further research into the effects of divorce on children reveals parental alienation syndrome as central to any children whose parents are divorced. This is a situation in which a child creates a relationship with only one parent. This depends on the alienating parent who is significant in establishing that singular relationship. For instance, a child may end up being more inclined to the mother after realizing the father is the main cause of the conflict in the family. The father, therefore, becomes a target parent and ends up being excluded from a singular relationship. The child is used by the alienating parent to accomplish a range of things: attain individual emotional needs, being used as a vehicle to express their intense emotions or as a pawn to cause pain to the target parent. This essentially has a negative implication on the psychological development of the child. Children tend to hate some gender based on what they saw as the major cause of conflicts between their parents. It is in fact traumatizing the moment they think of associating, for example, with a man when they well know that their father divorced their mother. They hate men in this case. Children’s future life is marred by such experiences and intervention at an early stage is critical to provide a healing process for such a child. This may be accomplished through education of those working closely with parents. They should advise these parents to minimize incidences of children knowing that there is a problem between their father and mother (Jolivet, 2011).

Collectively, these studies have imperative implications for therapists whenever they work with divorced families. Based on the long-term effects of divorce, the need for therapists to focus on life course and family system points of view is unprecedented. It should be noted that the relationship between a parent and a child goes on throughout life. As a result, divorce during any stage of development of a child has a potential negative effect on family relationship. There are pre and post-divorce factors that determined whether the family bond remains stable, improves or worsens (Jolivet, 2011).

Therapists have a major role in enlightening divorced parents to have a wider perception of their post-divorce family and look at the effects on their children after they divorce. Research indicates that after divorce life is especially disheartening to fathers. They feel unimportant in their children’s lives. Therapists should encourage both parents on the significance of maintaining a close relationship between a child and his father. This does not only heal the parent from the effects of a broken love but also improves self-esteem among children. They feel secure since the father in any family is a source of security regardless of his economic status (Ahrons, 2007).

Conclusion

The future of children’s psychological and physical development depends on whether their parents stick together or handle their post-divorce life effectively. The discussion, based on a wide range of literature reviews, has clearly outlined that divorce has a serious aftermath for children. Children feel better and lead a promising life when with two parents. Parents, who divorce, however, are encouraged to minimize involving their children in their conflicts. This has adverse effects in grouping children to incline on one parent leading to parental alienation syndrome. It is important to note that divorce affects children in different ways and ranges from small temper and behavior problems to sever physiological problems and know how to deal with each case.

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