The death of a parent is less devastating to a child than a divorce. (Billota, 2012) There are long term and short effects that children face during and post divorce. There are six stations in which most couples face while going through these trials. About fifty percent of married couples will get a divorced before the children are of the age of 18. (Scott, 2010) Since divorce is so complex I will discuss some guidelines on how to ease the pain on children growing up or going through a household in which parents are getting a divorce.
The death of a parent is less devastating to a child than a divorce. (Billota, 2012) After carefully analyzing this statistic I can say that I agree with the statistical fact. Speaking from personal experience, I feel like I am a creditable source and can relate to this topic of Challenges Children Faced in Divorced Families. Another statistic is that half of American children, under the age of eighteen will witness the actual break of their parents and half of those children will also witness the failure of the second marriage. The percentage of children being raised without their fathers in America is an astonishing forty percent.
Children who experienced a divorce are more like to be at a higher risk for illness or injury such as asthma, headaches, and speech defects. (Billota, 2012) These are just a few of the statistical facts that children of divorce face. My name is Mayra and I am a statistic. I come from a divorced family; I witnessed the breakup of my parents and both of their second marriages. I am a divorcee, my son is a recipient of speech therapy and I was raised without a father. Divorce is a death of a commitment and a promise, but unlike a death of a parent, it isn’t someone we mourn and then slowly move forward from, it is a death that we have to deal with on a day to day basis. This is why the death of a parent is less devastating to a child than of a divorce. (Billota, 2012)
“I, Mayra, take thee, Erick, to be my lawful wedded husband. To have and to hold from this day forward; for better or for worse; in sickness and in health; to love, to honor, obey, and cherish; from this day forward; till death do us part.” These are common broken vows. Why do people marry? According to our text, people marry for love and commitment as well to avoid the inevitable feeling of loneliness. (Scott, 2010) A steady companionship is ideal in society and although that isn’t the sole reason for marriage, it is one of the major reason people pursue marriage. Other reasons people get married besides personal fulfillment, can be for financial reasons, wealth, power and reproductive reasons. (Scott, 2010) In a perfect world everyone would live a fairytale marriage and live a happily ever after.
In today’s society divorce is what happens when couples don’t work out. Some might refer to it as a trend; do to the simple fact that in the most recent years the numbers of divorce rates have increased to a little more than 1 million a year. (Scott, 2010) Factors that affect marital stability are, but not refined just to, age of first marriage, education of individuals, income, religion, parental divorce, cohabitation, and presence of children. (Scott, 2010) There are different stages in the process of divorce. Starting from when the conflict between the married couple begins and last a period of time; to the initiation of legal paperwork; to the spouses’ adaption to the dissolution of the troubled marriage. (Scott, 2010)
As mentioned above some factors that affect marital stability include the presence of children. Marriages can last longer if children are indeed present do to the fact that parents don’t want their children to grow up in a broken home; it can be imposed values or the sense of guilt. In cases when the marriage cannot be salvaged and there are children involved in the dissolution; it is best that the parents take time to careful initiate the process while providing stability and structure. (Scott, 2010; Block, Kemp, & Smith, 2012)
The six stations that married couples face as they divorce are: emotional, legal economic, coparental, community and psychic divorce. During the emotional station, either one or both partners begin to question their marriage based on the viability or quality. One or both partners may withdraw emotionally, withhold feelings and may withhold affection. Intentionally hurting one another may occur because of the frustration, anger or resentment that they might feel towards each other or one another. Separation during this stage is common and it is common to do so after an argument or fight. (Scott, 2010) It is crucial that from this stage parents recognize that in order to avoid their children from feeling the stress and the pain of a divorce, that they provide structure, love and reassurance to the children.
One thing to remember is not to belittle one another or argue in front of the children. (Block, Kemp, & Smith, 2012) During my emotional station, we both detached from one another and intentionally hurt one another by verbally insulting each other. An argument that occurred while placing an order at a restaurant was all it took to know that the person that I married knew nothing about me after 6 years of marriage. I took into account that I had a son and I didn’t want him to grow up without both parents, but I figured it wasn’t a healthy marriage and I couldn’t hide my pain, it showed and affected my relationship with my son. I left within a couple of days of that argument.
Second station: The legal divorce officially ends the matrimony and gives both parties the right to remarry or see other people as they please. This is a deliberating period of time and usually takes months before it’s finalized. Divorce can be expensive and result in either spousal support, alimony, and or child support, which leads’ us to our third station: economic divorce. Economic divorce involves the economical settlements of tangible items that may have been accrued during the marriage. It includes homes, cars, bank accounts, investments and any future earnings. This station is not applicable to every marriage being that not every marriage last as long and may or may have not accrued much. Stations two and three may also affect the challenges the children face during these periods. Children may face the challenge of not seeing either parent for long periods of time and have to incorporate a new schedule and routine. It is common for a father to become less involved with their children during this period because of their perceptions of possible sources of support.
Fathers may feel that by providing child support they no longer have resume their ties to fatherly duties. During the economic station, children may also face economical changes. It is common for the mother to have custody and usually in household incomes the father has a higher income. If they live with the mother the child may not live the life as if both parents combined their income causing stress and emotional pain to a child. (Scott, 2010) Being involved with the children after divorce is a great way to reassure them that they have both parents’ regardless of the separation.
And even through the economical changes, providing the children with a safe secure home, establishing a routine, and providing structure will ease the challenges the children face. (Block, Kemp, & Smith, 2012) Children react to divorce by having feeling of denial, anger, sadness, rejection, despair and grief and loneliness. Station 4 the coparental divorce involves the responsibilities the parents have to the children that include, custody, visitation, and financial and legal aspects of it. (Scott, 2010) Engaging in custody battle adds an abundant amount of stress to all parties, especially the children. Ensuring that the children don’t get caught in between battle is important. Parents should make sure they don’t have the children chose sides and always remember it should be in the best interest of the child. (Block, Kemp, & Smith, 2012)
The community divorce, station five, involves the changes of the social relationships which includes relatives and friends that are associated with a former spouse. This can act as a loss to either family member. Having to detach from relatives, such as in-laws, mutual friends, family members of the former spouse, puts a toll on everyone because people are left to feel like they have to choose sides. Children face the challenges of losing friends and the luxury of having the sense of family. (Scott, 2010) In my personal situation, mutual friends were forced to take sides because my former spouse couldn’t handle the thought of sharing anything that had to do with me. Former family members feel like they can’t invite to family parties out of respect to my ex, but it affects my son because, he misses his father’s family. Situations like these are best handled by presenting as a united front. (Block, Kemp, & Smith, 2012)
The psychic divorce, sixth station, has no time frame and involves defining yourself as single person rather than a couple. During this process, people mourn their failed marriage, use the time to discover their self, distance themselves from the divorce and accept the breakup. The station of difficulty and time varies from individual to individual. (Scott, 2010) Children absorb so much through divorce and being a strong parent, who reassures them that they are not at fault or cause for the divorce helps ease the grief caused by the divorce. Helping children express emotions and committing to listen to the children without getting defensive reassures the unconditional love that you have for them. Adjusting to new circumstances is difficult for children, they can look at divorce as a loss and by supporting their feelings helps create that trust that may have been lost with the divorce. (Block, Kemp, & Smith, 2012)
Divorce on children has a short term and long term effect. The short term experiences that are most commonly shared among children whose parents divorced are: rejection, anger, denial, sadness, despair, and grief. Children tend to feel guilty and blame themselves for the divorce and fantasize about parents reuniting. The stresses of this may cause health problems, both physical and psychological. Health problems may be caused by the lack of health insurance following the divorce, which creates a health problematic for children. The stress of the divorce may lead to depression and leave the children feeling incompetent. This depends on the guidance of the parents and the adjustment process of the child. Long term effects may not be as clear and consistent.
Long term effects are long-lasting and interfere with the process of social-emotional developmental. (Scott, 2010) Children of divorced families are four more times likely to have problems with their peers. It is also said that boys who come from divorced parents tend to be more aggressive toward their peers than those who don’t come from a broken home. (Billota, 2012) The adult children of divorced parents show much more anxiety and have a higher rate of having failing interpersonal relationships. The more common long term effect of children of divorced parents is low self-esteem, depression and school and behavior problems. These are the negative effects and challenges children face. (Scott, 2010)
Support for marriage and families can be found online, within the community and schools. Some schools provide affordable counseling services. Parents who decide to divorce are encouraged to learn about the effects children face during divorce. It may help reduce risks children might face during and after the process. There is a high risk for fathers to be less involved with their children after divorce, so it is encouraged that families promote activities that involve parents and children so that it help them stay connected (Scott, 2010)
Important guidelines to help children cope are, telling the truth, saying “I love you”, addressing the changes, avoid blaming anyone, listening and acknowledging feelings, having patience, providing reassurance, and providing a structured routine. When in doubt, it is encouraged to seek professional help. (Block, Kemp, & Smith, 2012) By providing all the above, helps give the children a sense a security and perhaps the hope that everything is for the better. It would be nice if children from divorced families could break the vicious cycle of divorce. I can say that for two yours I put a lot effort into making my marriage work.
I encourage everyone to take premarital counseling and post-marital counseling. I believe to have a strong successful marriage there needs to be a solid foundation of communication, trust and respect. Love is an emotion and in most cases conditional, the only unconditional love that I ever known is for my son. I can’t say that for everyone. If I would have known that I was going to cause so much emotional pain getting a divorce, never in a million years would have given up after two years. The death of a parent is less devastating to a child than a divorce. (Billota, 2012)
Billota, L. (2012, March 23). 18 Shocking Statistics About Children and Divorce. Retrieved from Marriage Success Secrets website: http://www.marriage-success-secrets.com/statistics-about-children-and-divorce.html Block, J., Kemp, G., & Smith, M. (2012, March 21). Children and Divorce. Retrieved from Helpguide.org: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/children_divorce.htm Scott, M. A. (2010). Marriages and Families. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.