Divorce Effects

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Children of divorced parents displayed signs of lower self-esteem, depression and lower academic achievement. One study concluded that the rise in divorce had lowered the average level of child wellbeing (Amato, 2005), primarily due to parents fighting, lack of attention, adjusting to seeing one parent part-time and grieving for the loss of their family. If the parents remarry, having a stepfamily adds to the stress the child is already experiencing.

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Stability in children is typically enforced by their parents. When stability is broken, particularly through divorce, it can leave a child in emotional distress. Some studies indicate that the distress children feel from divorce may only be short-term, whereas, other studies indicate that children can carry that emotional distress through adolescence and adulthood. Children can develop depression and anxiety from the transitional change of losing that family stability and structure. Depression and anxiety in children can lead to an overall feeling of despair, lack of motivation, concentration, anger, and behavioral issues. Divorce is seen as setting off a chain of negative events and transitions that are causally related to youths’ psychological distress and may be more potent than the physical separation of parents (Thompson, 2014). Empirical data analyzed from another study indicates that children from divorced parents tend to have a negative view towards marriage, which means the effects of divorce still play a large role in the child’s perception of the world. Children of divorced families tend to be more delinquent, have aggressive behaviors and have a lower achievement rate in school. The change in economic status among divorces can also play a huge part in the emotional wellbeing of children (Brown, Manning, & Stykes, 2015). If re-marriage is added into the mix, children’s emotions and feelings can intensify as they may not have overcome the depression, anxiety, and negative effects divorce left on them.

Income. Increased family size has been known to have a financial strain on blended and step families, so children may not be able to participate in activities, events, or have vacations like they used to. Single parent families may also feel the stress of going from two incomes to one. One study used a quantitative approach to assess whether a child’s behavior was affected by resources, such as income, within different family types. The children involved in the research were between the ages of three and twelve. They were placed in four groups depending on age, so they could measure the association of behavior at different developmental stages, and the changes in family structure. The research suggests that changes to family structure from a two-biological-parent household to a single parent household had higher levels of behavioral issues for younger children; furthermore, it indicated that children of higher income parents, moving into a stepfamily may improve, not undermine, behavior (Ryan, Claessens, & Markowitz, 2014). Other studies have also shown that income as well as the age of the child at the time of the family type change can have an impact in the overall behavior of the child.

Attention. Children in nontraditional families can feel that they don’t matter anymore, or that the attention they once had from their biological parent is non-existent since other kids or a new spouse are taking up more time and attention (Morin, 2017). Younger children tend to depend on their parents more for attention, direction, encouragement, and guidance. If there is a change to the family type from an early age, parents tend to focus less on the children at hand, and more on life that now has become more difficult. The only child from a traditional family may have the potential for most change within the blended or stepfamily because until the blending, they had both of their parent’s full attention (Devine, 2017). This can cause a rift in the family dynamic and lead to children feeling alone and abandoned.

Discipline. Discipline and defining parent roles can be a major problem among nontraditional families. Single parents may not have the time or attention to enforce rules, supervision, or discipline as they once had, potentially leading to higher rates of delinquency, emotional distress and educational failure. Blended and step families may have difficulty defining each other’s role and may have considerable disagreements about discipline. These disagreements could lead to friction among the family dynamic, which can cause confusion and feelings of fault in children. A change in parenting styles and routines may be a struggle for children as they can find it difficult to adapt (Thomson, Hanson, & Mclanahan, 1994). Children may feel that the new level of discipline somehow replaces their other biological parent which can cause resentment issues. Change increases the level of stress among children which can affect their emotional stability and educational outcomes.

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Divorce Effects. (2022, Apr 11). Retrieved December 4, 2022 , from
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