Negative Consequences of Divorce on Children

Negative Consequences of Divorce on Children

Recently, there has been a dramatic rise in the divorce rates not only in the United States but also in other developed countries. Growing up in a divorce has become the alternative for many children especially in the United States. Many studies have tried to determine the consequences of divorce on children with most of them agreeing that the consequences are negative. The effects of divorce range from behavioral, psychological, financial and problem solving skills. However, not all children experience negative consequences as many of them succeed in life.

In her article, Moorhead is talking about Penelope Leach a British parenting Guru. Leach argues that even babies can be harmed by divorce especially if they are taken away from their primary caregiver and shuttled around (Moorhead par 3). She argues that divorce will always be harmful to children, and there is no way of preventing it. The effects range from sad and disruptive to tragic

Leach has written a book titled” Your Baby and Child.” She devotes the book to the topic that people are failing to manage divorce just like they manage other areas (Moorhead par 2). In simpler terms she argues that people can divorce better. The number of people divorcing is increasing, but the problem is not being handled. Children are victims in marital wars, but they are used as weapons. Statistically, the Office of National Statistics predicts that more than half of the children will be born outside marriage by the year 2016 (Moorhead par 8). She argues that the effects of divorce on children today are hard to quantify since figures only underestimate the problem.

Leach also has a personal experience with divorce. Her parents split up when she was ten years old, and she found it hard for her. She has the view that proper divorcing is mutual parenting. Parents must be ready to engage in mutual parenting even though they no longer love each other since the children need both the parents. The needs of the child must be considered first and not the needs of the parents. She argues that 92 percent of single parent families are women meaning that in most cases, it is the men who disappear yet according to research, men are important in the lives of their children (Moorhead par 19).

Weaver and Thomas conducted a longitudinal study specializing in the behavioral problems experienced by children after divorce.  The research was designed to investigate the externalizing and internalizing behavior problems experienced by children about whether they had experienced a parental divorce (Weaver and Thomas 39). The researcher was trying to determine which behavior problems are caused by divorce.

The key results of the study were that the behavior problems of children in divorced families are a fifth of a standard deviation higher as compared to those of children from intact families. In addition, children from high-income families prior to divorce had less internalizing problems as compared to children from low-income families. Income was reported to not be a moderator of divorce effects on children. Divorce did not stimulate an increase in behavior problems though children from divorced families increased in their ranking of behavior problems. Good parenting after separation is seen to reduce the negative effects on the (Weaver and Thomas 43)

From the results, it is clear that children from separated families have more behavior problems as compared to children from intact families. These behavior problems were evident immediately after separation and later on. However, divorce does not lead to an increase in the speed at which the behavior problems increase.  The analysis of the divorce mediators revealed that children were likely to experience behavior problems after divorce simply because the post-divorce environment was less stimulating and (Weaver and Thomas 45)

Good parenting after the divorce has more effects that are positive. The results of this study add to the fact that divorce has negative consequences on the children. It concludes that children from divorced families have more behavior problems as compared to children from intact families. When parents divorce, the environment under which the children are brought up defines their behavior. Mostly, when the environment is not encouraging and stimulating the children end up having negative consequences because of the divorce.

Patrick F. Fagan Aaron Churchill authors of the article “The effects of divorce on children” argue that in America, over one million children suffer the divorce of their parents (Fagan and Aaron 1).  Divorce is harmful to the society; it consumes human and social capital and also increases the cost to the taxpayer while diminishing taxpayers benefits from the society.

Though divorce causes harm to all parties involved, the children are the most affected. In some cases, divorce causes a temporary decrease in an individual’s quality of life while in other cases; the effect on the quality of life is permanent. Fagan and Aaron (2) argued that divorce affects the families in different ways. It destroys the parent and child relationship. When two parents divorce, also another divorce occurs between them and the children.  Parent –child relationship is damaged in about 40% of the divorced mothers (Fagan and Aaron 3). Children from divorced families receive less financial support, emotional support as well as practical help from the divorced parents.

Divorce reduces the children’s capability to handle conflicts. The chances of such children succeeding in marriage later in life diminish. College students from divorced families, for example, are more frequently involved in physical and aggressive violence with their friends. As the authors conclude children from divorced families are more likely to feel unhappy, communicate less, escalate the conflict and argue frequently. This makes it easier for the likelihood of divorce to be transmitted across generations (Fagan and Aaron 8).

Brown has elaborated much on the psychological effects of divorce on children. Brown himself was a child of divorce, and he talks about his experience. He has the opinion that even when the parents have a spirit of friendliness and acceptance, their separation will still have an effect. The effects of the divorce differ depending on the reasons for divorce, the divorce proceedings, family, and the relationship dynamics.  Divorce does not only affect the parents and the children but also those outside the immediate relationship.

Brown (par 3) argues that divorce can have repercussions on the family’s social environment, financial stability, and academic performance, the psychological and physical well-being of the family members.  He argues that though divorce can result in negative effects, remaining in an abusive relationship can have even greater effects. First, children who grow in a two-parent family have better outcomes as compared to children who grow up in a divorced family. Though divorce is not the sole cause of high rates of school dropouts, juvenile delinquency, and teenage pregnancy, it contributes to these problems independently.  Divorce does not, however, mean that the children will not succeed; many of such children do succeed in life (Brown par 4).

Children from divorced families perform worse academically as compared to children from intact families. These findings suggest the effects of divorce on children are less adverse than it is suggested in earlier studies. Brown (par 7) however acknowledges that their study was only based on teenagers and so cannot be used to make judgements on the effects of divorce on younger children.

Brown (par 6) advice parents to be concerned about the well beings of their children after divorce.  Whether parents suspect the divorce will affect the children or not, they should seek help from a professional practitioner. However, he warns against getting advice from just anybody. Advice should be sought from professionals only for credible, legitimate and sound advice.

Divorce whether peaceful or violent will have an effect on the children. After divorce, the parent child relationship is broken. In addition, children of divorce have low problem solving skills. The various effects range from sad and disruptive to tragic. It is hard for children to recover from these effects. Research has shown that a child of divorce will most likely divorce in their own marriages. Again, the young adults are also affected by divorce in addition to young children.


Works Cited

Brown, Asa Don. “The Psychological Effects of Divorce – Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.” Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. N.p., 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 04 May 2016. <>

Fagan, Patrick F., and Aaron Churchill. “The effects of divorce on children.” Marri Research (2012).

Moorhead, Joanna. “It’s Wrong to Use Children as a Weapon in Divorce or Separation.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 21 June 2014. Web. 04 May 2016. <>.

Weaver, Jennifer M., and Thomas J. Schofield. “Mediation and moderation of divorce effects on children’s behavior problems.” Journal of Family Psychology 29.1 (2015): 39-48.

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