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The Effects Of Divorce On Children Persuasive Essay Sample

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The Effects Of Divorce On Children Persuasive Essay Sample

In the modern society the institution of a family is increasingly being exposed to pressure. Being socially accepted, divorce has turned into a typical phenomenon, shaping a new structure of a family unit. According to the recent statistics, about 48 percent of American marriages will eventually break up. As a result, a substantial number of children not only acquire a new social status of “children of divorce” but also undergo a psychological transformation, which can’t be ignored by research.  In the current paper I intend to show that although post-divorce experience varies with the age of a child, the negative effects of depression, anxiety and coping skills’ failure are shared by them.

Recently there has been a considerable amount of research conducted to examine the influence of divorce on the offspring. In their studies, the scholars focus on different aspects of the process and the outcome, each following their specific structure. Thus, LeeAnn Kot and Holly M. Shoemaker in their article “Children of Divorce: An Investigation of the Developmental Effects from Infancy through Adulthood” differentiate between the four age groups while investigating the consequence: infancy/toddlehood, childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.

 For the youngest group the develonmental stage focuses on attachment behaviour and parental contact for infants and additionally, cognitive competence, psychosomatic symptoms, and mental health for toddlers(Kot,Shoemaker,1999) As the researchers show the level of adjustment depends on such factors as age, parental conflict, nature of visitation, continuity of the child’s relationship with the noncustodial parent. The symptoms of typical negative reaction for this section are manifested through anxiety and depression of the kid. Among the main problems the authors stress the fact that mechanical relationship prescribed by visitation does not usually fulfil the need of growing child and that the contact with the noncustodail parent maybe further decreased with the presence of a stepparent (Kot,Shoemaker,1999)

The optimal development of an infant or a toddler can be assured in such a critical phase by providing stability, predictability, and security for the offspring. As far as the phase of childhood is concerned, the authors claim there exists a combination of short-term and long-term effects, which overlap. Thus, first of all, the children are emotionally distressed; secondly, they are anxious because they feel torn between parents. The perception of losing one of the parents can on a long-term scale cause fear of forming close relationships. Besides, short-term outcome includes deterioration in school behavior and achievement.

The stage of adolescence, apart from typical stress, brings controversial interpretation based upon different studies. Some scholars believe that adolescent children of divorced parents tend to get married earlier than usual, whereas other claims, in contrast, that they are not likely to get married at all. It is different with young adults whose parents divorce. Of course, they experience distressful emotions but at the same time they are affected rather by family dynamics rather than family structure (Kot,Shoemaker,1999).

The typical outcome for this group is non- traditional patterns of behavior such as early sexual activity, nonmarital cohabitation, and high schools dropout. The researchers point out that compared to their peers they have a greater number of sexual partners as college students. In the course of time they are reluctant to commit to a long-term emotional relationship out of fear of failure and are likely experience the dissolution of their own marriages. Overall, the authors insist on the necessity for internal and external social support aimed at the development of coping skills.

In the article “The Influence of Divorce on Children” Solly Dreman views the age differentiation at a somewhat different angle, stressing the issue of causation which is circular, with cause and effect relations changing over time. As an example of such circularity she provides a case when a child may not only be a victim affected but may also learn to be manipulative .The author offers multi-level structure in analysing the child response. First, she differentiates between individual and family context. Secondly, she considers the individual context in terms of age, gender and temperament.

Speaking of age, the scholar focuses on the main short-term and long-term effects. “Preschool children’s responses are mediated by limited cognitive and social competencies, their parental dependency, and their reaction to the home environment. Limited cognitive development prevents accurate interpretation of events immediately after divorce including their own role in the divorce process, faulty perceptions of motives and feelings of parents as well as possible outcomes (Dreman, 2000) Older children experience the same pain and anger but have cognitive maturity to understand the reasons of divorce.

At the same time the author refers to the research that long-term adjustment was better in children who were younger at the time of divorce. An assumed explanation for the phenomenon may be that their memories of the conflict were not as vivid as those of older children. In the meantime, gender aspect of the research shows that boys are more negatively influenced by parental conflict and suffer more of the loss of daily contact with fathers than girls do.

As for girls they seem to feel empathy for their mothers and imitate their behavior. As far as the family context is concerned, a interesting phenomenon is examined: the so-called civilized divorce, which sometimes can be even more traumatic for kids. “Avoidance of conflict and overt hostility by parents in the predivorce period may have prevented an opportunity to work through and understand these family conflicts and feelings. This resulted in confusion in these children who could not understand why their “friendly” parents had divorced” ( Dreman, 2000)

The article “The Bad Divorce” by Elizabeth Marquardt is devoted to criticism of the book by Constance Ahrons “We’re Still Family: What Grown Children Have to Say About Their Parents’ Divorce”. Marquardt is highly sceptical of the author’s assumption that it is only the way parents divorce, not the fact of divorce itself affects the offspring in a negative way. Even more she is surprised at Ahron’s conclusion that over three-quarters of the young people whose parents were divorce when they were kids do not wish that their parents were still together. The author of the article finds it a questionable argument to the positive implication of divorces. “Treating a sad, unfortunate experience as something neutral or even positive is merely one example of what can happen when a person attempts to conform to a culture that insists that divorce is no big deal.

To take such an ambivalent response as clear evidence that divorce does no image, as Ahrons does, is inexcusable” (Marquardt,2005) The researcher points out to a number of methodological drawbacks of the book: thus,  Ahrons interviewed plenty of people from divorced families but didn’t spoke to their peers from intact families. That’s why there is no opportunity to compare how they differ in their reactions and development. Moreover, instead she completely dismisses the pain expressed by the children of divorce and regards it as passing over a normal developmental phase (Marquardt,2005)

Marquardt herself doesn’t speak much about the effects of divorce but she states one significant outcome-silence. “The demand that children of divorce keep quiet and get with program puts them in the position of protecting adults from guilt and further stress – effectively reversing the natural order of family life in which the adults are the protectors of children” (Marquardt,2005) Overall, the main message of the article is the necessity to view the phenomenon of divorce not from the standpoint of parents but from the one of children.

 To sum up, it is important to note that the influence of divorce on children is manifold and depends much on such factors as age, gender, temperament, family and individual circumstances and so on. If children of the younger age are affected by the change of a family structure as a whole, the older ones suffer more from the way the divorce is carried out. As infants and toddlers are especially vulnerable to the absence of any of the parents, it is important not to turn the visits of a noncustodial parent into a sheer formality. For these children who are not cognitively mature it is especially vital for the parents to create the atmosphere of harmony or at least collaboration to assure the child’s well-being.

For children of all age the specialists insist on the necessity of external as well as internal social support. The requirement of external support, which is provided by psychologist, is justified by the fact that the regular internal functioning of family unit is disrupted by the parents’ aggression and depression.

That’s why parents of infants and toddlers should be consulted how to act in a situation of a divorce and in case with older children, the whole family should be involved. It is essential to remember that the problems and conflicts which occur should be worked through; otherwise they are sublimated or transformed into different forms of violent or depressed behavior. Overall, although social institutions can and sometimes need to assist in solving post-divorce traumatic effects, it is largely due to the parents themselves to choose the way of behavior, which will hurt their offspring least.


Dreman, S. (2000). The Influence of Divorce on Children, Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 32(3/4), p.41+

Kot, L., Shoemaker, H. (1999) Children of Divorce: An Investigation of the Developmental Effects from Infancy through Adulthood, Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 31(1/2), p.161+

Marquardt, E. (2005). The Bad Divorce, A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, 122, p.24+

Stevenson, M. R., Black, K(1996) ( How Divorce Affects Offspring: A Research Approach. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Wallerstein, J.S., Kelly, and J. B. (1996) Surviving the Breakup: How Children and Parents Cope with Divorce. New York: Basic Books.

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