Effects of Divorce on Children
Research Paper ??“ Affects of Divorce on Children
November 9, 2009
II. Social and Emotional Learning
III. Divorce and Moral Development
IV. Effects of divorce on children and their education
a. Impacts – Harmful factors of divorce
b. Is divorce damaging
V. Myths about divorce
VI. Parenting after divorce
VII. How schools cope with children affected by divorce
Within this paper the topic at hand is divorce and how it affects children and students. How do students cope with such a traumatic event in their life School is hard enough as it is and now on top of that they have to deal with problems going on at home between their parents. That is something children should not have to encounter. However, there are times where divorce is the right thing to do, but that does not mean it is easy for children. Children are used to having both parents in the house and now it is time to figure out how to cope, restructure, and manage with only one parent at home and the other only seen occasionally. The writer tries to do her best at exploring all the areas that deal with the affects of divorce on children, whether good or bad, and how students and even the schools cope.
The Affects of Divorce on Children
There are many things that effect children and students today. It is important for us to understand the world of students and children in order to figure out how we can help them to better themselves and their education. One area that the writer would like to explore deeper into is the effect divorce has on children and their education. Divorce is no laughing matter and is not an easy subject to deal with for anyone, no matter their age. Within this paper the writer would like to delve into the aspects of divorce and how it relates to children and their education along with how children cope with such a traumatic change in their lives. This subject hits close to home for the writer and will help her in her endeavor to better assist her school aged children as well. Through it all we must realize that the decisions and actions we take as parents and adults will have a rippling effect on those involved, mainly the children.
Before we begin our endeavor into our topic of divorce the writer would first like to look at the foundations of social and emotional learning. She feels this would help to support the topic that will be discussed in future paragraphs. According to Zins et al. (2004), ???schools will be most successful in their educational mission when they integrate efforts to promote children??™s academic, social, and emotional learning??? (p. 3). Social and emotional learning plays roles on not only nonacademic outcomes but also academic performance and lifelong learning (Zins et al., 2004). Schools are a place for social learning and learning is considered to be a social process.
As we all know there are many factors to a student??™s learning process. They do not learn alone. There is a collaboration that takes place between their teachers, peers, and families which aid in the process of student learning. When problems or emotions occur in a student??™s life there becomes a hindrance within their learning which can also affect their ultimate success in school. ???Because social and emotional factors play such an important role, schools must attend to this aspect of the educational process for the benefit of all students??? (Zins et al., 2004, p. 3). There are many schools that focus on student responsibility, moral character, and learning and behaving properly in class. ???SEL is the process through which we learn to recognize and manage emotions, care about others, make good decisions, behave ethically and responsibly, develop positive relationships, and avoid negative behaviors??? (Zins, et al., 2004, p. 4). If our children are to be successful in school and life those key characteristics need to be developed because if not then it will be hard for them to succeed. It is critical to find out what social-emotional challenges students face in their lives. Issues like the one this paper will hit upon (divorce) will only limit success in their academic process.
With that said it is important to find ways to address these social-emotional challenges and that is why many teachers are now required to receive ???training in how to address social-emotional learning to manage their classrooms more effectively, to teach their students better, and to cope successfully with students who are challenged??? (Zins et al., 2004, p. 4). This training will also help teachers with their own stress and problem solving in their own lives. Once teachers receive the training and the student??™s social-emotional challenges are determined then they can be taught self-awareness, social cognizance, make responsible decisions, and become competent in self-management and relationship management. All this is an important aspect to understand before continuing on with our discussion of divorce and how it affects children.
We will now look at the ways divorce affects the moral development of students. According to Kogos and Snarey (1995), ???students whose parents were divorced during their adolescent years exhibit a significantly higher level of moral development than those adolescents whose parents were not divorced???. Additionally Kogos and Snarey (1995) states that, ???studies that have focused on the impact of fathers??™ absence suggest that divorce is associated with lower levels of moral development and higher levels of deviancy and delinquency???. This is not a synonymous finding however. ???Father-absent homes also vary in terms of authority patterns, role models, and socioeconomic status, which partially underlie the negative effects attributed to divorce??? (Kogos & Snarey, 2004). One aspect that would help protect children of divorce would be the frequent involvement of the father.
There has been a consensus among conservative politicians and citizens that divorce has lead to a decline in values and an increase in emotional problems in youth (Shumaker & Heckel, 2007). So does divorce or a single-parent household affect the moral development of their children There is supportive data that supports this belief and that goes against it. Once example of this is, that children within a single-parent home ???are more likely to experience a range of health, educational, achievement, and adjustment problems versus children of a non-divorced household??? (Shumaker & Heckel, 2007, p. 49). Children of divorce are at great emotional risk that includes internalizing and externalizing problems. In most cases the best moral development of children is to have both parents in the household.
There are five hypothesized reasons why children in divorced homes are at greater risk for experiencing problems. (1) ???Single-parent families, on average, frequently experience pronounced financial hardships that can reduce the availability of resources to help the children and increase the overall stress level of both the parent and children??? (Shumaker & Heckel, 2007, p. 50). (2) ???Single parents, on average, are at greater risk for developing mental health problems, especially depression amongst mothers??? (Shumaker & Heckel, 2007). (3) There are higher levels of conflict and family coherence is lower which relates towards educational and adjustment problems in children (Shumaker & Heckel, 2007). (4) There are more transitions that divorced family members have to deal with like living situations which impacts child development (Shumaker & Heckel, 2007). (5) When children live with parents that are cohabitating with someone else then poor outcomes develop. Even with these five supporting details there is another side to the story. There are many success stories found that would support that children living within a single-parent home have overcome difficulties and found achievement in academics and life.
It is about time we look into the effects of divorce on children and their education. Within the next couple paragraphs we will discuss the impacts and harmful factors of divorce. Furthermore, we will find out if divorce is damaging to the children involved. ???Children exposed to divorce are twice as likely to repeat a grade and five times likelier to be expelled or suspended from school, according to the article Divorces Toll on Children by Karl Zinsmeister??? (St. Clair, 2007, par. 1). Children affected by divorce become less imaginative, repetitive, and passive watcher; furthermore, they become more dependent, demanding, disobedient, and unaffectionate. This is usually due to the fact that these children are concerned with abandonment, loss of love, and physical harm which they then take with them to school. According to St. Clair (2007) a survey was conducted using ???700 youngsters that intact families on 9 of 30 mental health measures, show among other things, more withdrawal, dependency and inattention, and unhappiness, and less work effort??? (par. 2). Then there becomes concern for the students of divorce because they turn to drug use, violent acts, suicide, and even pregnancy. These psychological and social issues caused by divorce are a lot for school personnel to handle and deal with.
Fifteen percent of children that live with their mother and have no contact with their fathers are subjected to explosion (St. Clair, 2007). The dropout rate for students of divorce is at 13 percent. Students continuing their education with college are far less than 85 percent and 60 percent will not match the academic achievements of their fathers. In cases of students with learning difficulties the affect will greatly impact his academic success. ???Psycho-educational testing conducted by the school psychologist at parents request will assist educators and parents in determining the nature of a childs difficulties in school??? (St. Clair, 2007, par. 5). Through it all it is important to distinguish between the affects of divorce versus just ordinary learning difficulties.
When a teacher or psychologist assesses a child??™s academic and intellectual potential they will take into consideration any family problems currently affecting a student??™s achievement level (Schaffer, 1987). Of course divorce is one of those types of problems taken into consideration. There are many ways that divorce affects students. Children tend to blame themselves in the situations of divorce and they harbor thoughts and expectations that they can bring their parents back together again. In some situations children may feel a sense of shame or humiliation which leads to them withdrawing from fellow classmates. Fear, of course, is another common side effect of divorce. This fear is brought on through the worry of how things will turn out and if the same love will be there for the children. Sometimes children become the focal point of the divorce and pawns in the mix of it all. ???One by-product of divorce is the stress of a single parent family: A child may be affected by the financial difficulties of the custodial parent, especially if those difficulties include mandatory tuition payments??? (Schaffer, 1987). There is always the case of coping with the family and work at the same time. As a result, this will contribute to less time and attention being spent with the children. Parents who are faced with disciplining their children have a difficult time doing so because they want to win over their children. ???Children can also be affected by marital strife that does not result in divorce??? (Schaffer, 1987). ???One frequently hears that a couple is staying together ???for the sake of the children??™??? (Schaffer, 1987). If this is the case the side effects will be harmful because children are not stupid and they will realize something is still wrong between their parents.
???A divorce harms a family??™s structure and interferes with its operating procedures. In some cases, a divorce will mean that a child literally loses a parent, only to see them once or twice in a year, or even less. This can also cause a child to lose contact with the family of the non-custodial parent, as the child may be less and less likely to see those grandparents,
uncles, aunts, or cousins. Basic logistics, such as holidays, birthday parties, and school activities are also affected by a divorce. These separations can harm a child??™s social skills, as well as their sense of self-worth??? (Labor of love, 2009, par. 3). Of course there are some children who are more affected by divorce than others. What has a greater impact is what the parents do and do not do in order to help the process easier for their children. Additionally, other factors that come into consideration are gender, age, psychological health, and maturity of the children involved.
Is divorce always damaging to the children involved This is where we come to the point in this discussion that brings a new perspective. ???Sometimes divorce and its effects on children can be misunderstood,??? replied Gayle Peterson (2009). When it comes to the media, divorce is blown out of proportion. When parents are dealing with the topic of divorce they really need to deeply think about the process and then finding the best solutions to fit the needs and interests of the children involved. Many cases of divorce have been only for the benefits of convenience and in a sense almost something that has become common. Do not get me wrong there are times when divorce is a necessary step for all involved, even the children. A study done in 1981 by E.M. Hetherington ???clearly states that a conflict-ridden intact home is more detrimental to all family members than a stable home in which parents are divorced??? (Peterson, 2009). ???Naturally, this is because the continued conflict drains the energy needed for a child??™s development, causing difficulties in learning, socializing or other areas of growth??? (Peterson, 2009). Of course, each situation is different and unique to all members involved. ???Divorce is a tool??? (Peterson, 2009). ???Norma Walsh, a noted family researcher, is not alone in her field when she states that the family processes and quality of family relationships remain the most significant predictor for health in families, divorced or not??? (Peterson, 2009).
So to always say that divorce leads to dysfunction that is not always true. Families of divorce can function just the same as intact families. According to Peterson (2009), ???family researchers have found that it is not divorce that creates long term disturbance in children, but there other significant factors related to post separation changes???. These factors are: (1) ???the quality of post-separation life on the children ??“ for example, whether they are propelled into poverty or cannot pursue classes or education they enjoyed previously???; (2) ???change in quality of the relationship with a parent following divorce???; and (3) ???the number and degree of other stressors induced by the separation for the child??? (Peterson, 2009). If these factors can be minimized and controlled then the effects on the children will become less impacting and life for the children will become stable. Just because we may be able to control the effects of divorce it does not mean it should become an answer to all problems.
We cannot assume we know everything there is to know and with that said children are still affected and suffer through divorce. It is important to remember a family is a system and the best interests of the children needs to come first. It is parent??™s responsibility to do the right thing whatever that may be, but that does not mean everyday will be an easy one, there will be those days that are harder than others.
Furthering on in our endeavor to uncover the affects of divorce leads us to something that became of interest, which is the myths about the effects of divorce on children. A study was done in the 1970??™s by Judith Wallerstein that examined the effects of divorce on children. This process took 25 years and involved 131 children and their families. Through the study ???we learn that children really are not ???resilient??™ and that divorce leaves children to struggle for a lifetime with the residue of a decision their parents made??? (Meyer, 2009). According to Ms. Wallerstein, ???If the truth be told, and if we are able to face it, the history of divorce in our society is replete with unwarranted assumptions that adults have made about children simply because such assumptions are congenial to adult needs and wishes. The myths that continue to guide our divorce policies and politics today stem from these direct attitudes??? (Meyer, 2009). ???In other words we have become a society of adults who put their own needs and happiness before the emotional well-being of their children and justify it all by buying into the myth that children are resilient or time heals all wounds??? (Meyer, 2009).
In reading this article two myths were presented. The first myth states if parents are happy then the children will be happy too. This is not true and parents that think so have to face reality. Divorce alters the lives of everyone. So think about it if adults are struggling to get through the pain and changes how do we think children manage We need to realize that a ???child??™s happiness in not dependent on their parent??™s; it stems from routine, having a home, two parents, friends to play with, school activities to be involved in and being able to count on those things being constant day in and day out??? (Meyer, 2009).
The second myth states that if there is less animosity then there will be fewer traumas. This is a misguided belief. In divorce nothing can ever be described as peaches and cream. There will always be bad feelings and someone who is hurt more than the other. Sometimes there may even be cases where one person tries to fight for the marriage and does not what divorce, which in the end makes them hurt even more because they continue to be rejected. It is hard to keep these feelings and emotions away and out of sight of the children so eventually children will pick up on that. ???To think that all will be fine as long as the divorce process goes off without a hitch is unwise for all involved??? (Meyer, 2009). ???What was most painful and caused the most long-term negative effects for children is the sadness of their family breaking up, the anger they were not able to express, having to adjust to one parent no longer living in the home, the loss of control over activities because of forced visitation, the loss of two full-time parents in their lives, the sadness they feel around friends from intact families and the change in the economic status that all children experience when their parent??™s divorce??? (Meyer, 2009). We need to realize that what hurts the children is the aftermath of divorce not the process.
Our next step is to find out how families function after divorce. What else is affected by divorce other than what is experienced by the children That would be the aspect of parenting. What changes for the parents and how do they parent their children without causing more stress and problems Just because divorce ends marriage does not mean the family has ended and that is when parents need to decide how they are going to make things work and develop co-parenting methods. ???People who separate but continue to work cooperatively as parents give their children the best chances for a smooth adjustment to living in two separate households and continued growth??? (Segal et al., 2009). ???Co-parenting is the term used when a divorced couple works together to maintain an amicable relationship and a consistent parenting plan for the sake of their children??? (Segal et al., 2009). When parents come to the realization that this is the best way to go then everyone will benefit and challenges from the divorce will diminish. Through this process parents are able to stay actively involved in their children??™s lives, which is best.
So why would co-parenting be the best way to go Children have needs and that does not change just because of divorce. Children want to feel loved, secure, and protected. When divorce comes into play all those elements go out the door for children and that is when parents need to reassure their children and develop methods of co-parenting that will help the children feel loved and secure. When parents develop a cooperative and cordial relationship children ???feel security and love from seeing their parents continue to work together, and will probably adapt better to the divorce; learn from their parents how to solve problems, cooperate and be flexible; and benefit from consistent rules and two sets of eyes paying attention to them??? (Segal et al., 2009). ???Through parent??™s attitude, actions, and parenting partnership, the children will recognize that they are more important than the conflict that ended the marriage, and understand that parental love will prevail despite changing circumstances??? (Segal et al,. 2009).
Since we saw how parents can make it easier for children after the initial divorce, it is now time to find out how schools and staff help children cope through the affects of divorce. School is hard enough as it is and now divorce is put in the mix. What happens now and how do schools make it less complicated for children to focus on academics versus family issues Well first off, ???it is really important for teachers to be aware of the impact of divorce, to realize the problems and act as a mentor, and to be aware of outside help available for kids and parents,??? says Kim Purdy (2000). Additionally, some schools are now developing programs that will help children cope with divorce. It is obvious that schools need to find methods or programs that will help children manage through the divorce otherwise school work, relationships, and attendance will be affected and strained. With programs or individuals to help children they will be able to vent all their frustrations, hurts, and anger instead of bottling it up and causing harm.
???The U.S. Census bureau estimates that approximately 50 percent of all American children born in 1982 will live in a single-parent home sometime during their first 18 years, mostly as a result of separation or divorce. Schools can represent one stable force in the childrens lives during the family transition and school personnel can help them cope with the effects of divorce??? (Beekman, 2000).
As we know children cope with divorce in different ways and that mainly has to do with what age they are and their level of maturity. These stages begin at early latency and then go to late latency and end with adolescence. Beekman (2000) provides use details on each of these stages: (1) ???Children between the ages of five and eight at the time of their parents divorce tend to react with great sadness. Some may feel fearful, insecure, helpless, and abandoned by the missing parent. Younger children often express guilt and blame themselves for their parents divorce; (2) Children in late latency at the time of their parents divorce are distinguished from younger children by their feelings of intense anger. Nine to 12-year-olds may still feel loneliness, loss, shock, surprise, and fear, but anger and possibly the rejection of one parent are the predominant reactions of this age group; (3) Adolescents (ages 13-18) whose parents are divorcing also experience loss, sadness, anger, and pain. A typical adolescent reaction to parental divorce, however, often involves acting-out behaviors. Sexual promiscuity, delinquency, the use of alcohol and drugs, and aggressive behavior have all been identified as adolescent reactions to parental divorce??? (par. 3-5).
Since we know what children experience and at what stage in their lives it is important to find out what role the school will have in helping students overcome their difficulties. Schools provide supportive services to children who have to deal with divorce. Since children spent most of their days at schools it is important for that environment to be a safe one that offers stability and a routine. ???Counselors, teachers, and other school personnel are available on a daily basis and can provide help that avoids both the stigma and the expense associated with seeking help from private practitioners not to mention the possibility of group interventions??? (Beekman, 2000).
In a school the individual that plays more of a role in helping children cope is the school counselor. Counselors are advised ???not to view divorce as a single problem with negative consequences, but focus on changes caused by divorce and their positive, negative, or neutral effects on the children??? (Beekman, 2000). Counselors are not just there for the children they also help teachers, staff, and parents find ways to adapt. It is important for counselors and teachers to find the most effective ways to help children of divorce. Those effective methods include: ???providing opportunities for students to discuss their feelings; allow children privacy when needed; recommend and encourage the use of age-appropriate resource materials; provide a stable environment; maintain consistent expectations and routines; engage in supportive communication; inform parents about child??™s progress or difficulties; encourage parents to be honest, direct, supportive, and firm with their children; be aware of language which may be offensive to children of divorce; and plan and label events for parents, rather than specifically for mothers and fathers??? (Beekman, 2000).
In conclusion, it is apparent that there are many aspects to the affects of divorce on children. Those aspects do not favor divorce or go against it. What became clear is that the children are the main concern and their best interests need to be the priority for parents. Parents need to stop themselves from being selfish and wanting only what they feel is right. It is important to make sure that the lives of the children after divorce becomes important in order for them to feel loved, secure, and protected. Additionally, when that happens children will be able to focus on what matters in a child??™s life: school, friends, and fun. What we need to stay focused on throughout everything is ???children ought not to be victims of the choices adults make in life,??? said by Wade Horn (2009).
#1 This article written provides information on how schools help children cope with divorce. Schools, teachers, staff, and counselors need to take an active role in helping children through divorce. Sometimes this is the only out for children to express themselves and they need someone other than their parents to talk to. Good details were given on how schools provide that support.
Beekman, N. (2000). Helping children cope with divorce: the schools counselor??™s role. Retrieved November 12, 2009, from http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-925/divorce.htm
#2 This is a website that provided quotes on divorce and children.
Horn, W. (2009). Quotes on children and divorce. Marriage Missions International. Retrieved November 13, 2009, from http://www.marriagemissions.com/quotes-on-children-and-divorce/
#3 Within this article the writer will research the apparent effects of divorce on children??™s psychosocial and moral development. They will provide information about how the absence of a father will lower the moral development and increase deviancy and delinquency among those children affected. Furthermore, authority patterns, role models, and socioeconomic status which is negatively affected by divorce. It is apparent that this article will cover more detailed information based on the effects divorce has on children involved.
Kogos, J. & Snarey, J. (1995). Parental divorce and the moral development of adolescents. New York. Vol. 23, Iss. ?. pg. 177. Retrieved October 23, 2009, from ProQuest Database: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdwebindex=3&did=490418361&SrchMode=1&sid=6&Fmt=2&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1256236563&clientId=74379
#4 Divorce is harmful and can cause many problems for those involved. When divorce is happening unfortunately the children are left out and all that the parents are concerned with is themselves. Parents need to realize that divorce is very traumatizing for their children and will affect self-esteem, sense of security, and education to name a few. Within this paper the author covers the harmful areas that children deal with in the cases of divorce and how it is important for parents to stop and look at what they are doing to their children.
Labor of love. (2009). How divorce harms children. Retrieved October 23, 2009, from http://www.thelaboroflove.com/articles/how-divorce-harms-children/
#5 To get a different look at divorce it was great to look at the article on the myths about the effects of divorce on children. The information provided was given through the conducting of a study involving 131 children and families. With that study the writer was able to give us information that made sense and detailed the myths and facts about the effects of divorce on children. These myths should be taken into consideration and observed by those involved in divorce.
Meyer, C. (2009). Effects of divorce on children ??“ myths about the effects of divorce on children. Retrieved October 23, 2009, from http://divorcesupport.about.com/od/childrenanddivorce/p/childrenmyths.htm
#6 The effects of divorce on those directly involved are often misunderstood. Within this article the author will discuss different aspect of divorce that would not always be considered or thought of. She gives information that may provide proof as to why divorce might be necessary in certain circumstances. Furthermore, she will provide the means as to why exactly divorce effects children and how those factors, if minimized will bring stability and understanding. What it comes down to is how the divorce is handled and how the children cope through the process with little grievances.
Peterson, G. (2009). Is divorce always damaging to the kids Retrieved October 23, 2009, from http://parenting.ivillage.com/mom/structure/0,,3whd,00.html
#7 This short article details the need for schools to develop programs or help that will assist children in coping with divorce. It also makes it clear that teachers need to be there for those students and help and mentor them through that difficult time in their lives.
Purdy, K. (2000). School help for divorce kids. Retrieved November 11, 2009, from ProQuest Database: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdwebindex=42&did=54871067&SrchMode=1&sid=2&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1258131607&clientId=74379
#8 Within this article we find information that helps parents learn how to deal with parenting after a divorce. This method is through co-parenting which we found out to be the best solution for the children.
Segal, J., Kemp, G., Jaffe, J., & Russell, D. (2009). Co-parenting after a separation or divorce. Retrieved November 13, 2009, from http://helpguide.org/mental/coparenting_shared_parenting_divorce.htm#authors
#9 This article details the impact of divorce on children and their classroom achievement. The authors details each area that is affect in the classroom through the impact of divorce. Furthermore, they address how school staff assesses children involved with family problems.
Schaffer, M. & Schaffer, S. (1987) The impact of divorce on the child in the classroom. Retrieved October 23, 2009, from http://www.lookstein.org/articles/divorce.htm
#10 It is important to uncover the aspects that divorce has on the moral development of the children involved. Within this article the writers address the areas of moral development and divorce. They further explore whether or not a single-parent home is more damaging versus having both parents in the household.
Shumaker, D. & Heckel, R. (2007). Kids of character: a guide to promoting moral development. Retrieved November 12, 2009, from http://books.google.com/booksid=shqw0DS8hxgC&pg=PA49&lpg=PA49&dq=divorce+and+moral+development&source=bl&ots=Tt9rOaLp09&sig=rCM2nSE0joE2Txh0ccEpU_A_MnE&hl=en&ei=hGj8Soe_K4S8sgOY7Y2UAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CBsQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=divorce%20and%20moral%20development&f=false
#11 There is an effect of divorce on children and education. Within this article the author provides information that supports the topic at hand. She also provided statistics to back up the data given. Furthermore, she addresses the importance of parent involvement in their children??™s academic experience and how they are managing.
St. Clair, J. (2007). The effects of divorce on children and education. Retrieved October 23, 2009, from http://www.divorcewizards.com/The-effects-of-Divorce-on-Children-and-Education.html
#12 This resource provides details towards the social and emotional challenges students face. It also details how schools and teachers need to address those issues in order to help student achieve success towards their academic process. If these areas are not addressed then it will only hinder a student??™s success and in the long run their life.
Zins, J., Bloodworth, M., Weissburg, R., and Walberg, H. (2004). The scientific base linking social and emotional learning to school success. Retrieved October 23, 2009, from http://www.casel.org/downloads/T3053c01.pdf