How children of divorce react Ian Sanderson Gender in our Society Erica Dixon
TOPIC It is important to look at how divorce affects the children in their adolescent years and the impact that divorce may have on their later adult lives. Looking at the affects of divorce puts kids at risk of riskier behavior such as drugs, drinking, aggressive behavior or depression. When kids lose their stable structure of a family they often begin to crumble and are vulnerable to these types of behavior.
Topic (cont) It can also have an effect on their later relationships and the cycle could be repeated. As stated in the book The Gendered Society by Michael Kimmel- Fourth Edition, “No one doubts that divorce is difficult for children or that being raised by two parents is probably better than being raised by one. The consequences of divorce on children depend on the level of marital conflict prior to the divorce.” (Kimmel, 2011)
BACKGROUND There has been a lot of research on divorce but only as of recently has the research turned to how divorce affects children The results they came up with were that adolescents in a divorced family living with either mother or father were at higher risk of using illicit drugs, alcohol, drunkenness, and smoking then in a family with two parents living in the same house. When it came to looking at if the drugs or drinking was higher when they lived with a single mother or father they found there was no difference. Along with those risks they found that children living with one parent or the other had a higher risk of aggressive behavior and aggressive out bursts.
Another study I looked at was by Judith Wallerstein and Joan Kelly. They began their study back in the 1970’s and watched about 60 children and the study lasted around 25 years. They asked seven question of the children. ). This study shows that “there is a wide range of individual difference as to how children deal with divorce so that it is not really possible to say how all children will respond to divorce, but only how a particular child will respond to a particular divorce.” (Wallerstein, Kelly 2002)
In contrast to the two studies I have talked about is the research of E. Mavis Heatherington, a Psychology professor at the University of Virginia. For three decades she followed about 14,000 families and more than 2,500 children. Heatherington studied the objective records of several thousand children and based her conclusion on group data rather than individuals. She found that 25% of children from divorce do have serious social or emotional problems, 75-80% of children of divorce show very little long term damage and as adults are functioning well. She found within two years of the divorce, the vast majority of children are doing reasonably well, and that 70% of divorced parents are living happier lives then they did before divorce.
Background (cont.) .These studies all have looked at children of divorce and used both subjective and objective data but have come up with very different conclusions
Hypothesis I have chosen to look at how divorce affects children in the short term and long term. Children who are involved in divorce at a younger age will be more apt to get involved in risky behavior such as drugs, alcohol, aggressive behavior and depression. For the long term, the divorce will somehow affect their relationships as they become adults.
Methods Twenty-five people were surveyed Age range 16-40 14 female 11 male 5 were in the 30-40 10 were in the 21-29 10 in the 16-20
Methods The questions asked were as followed What age were you when your parents divorced? Which parent had majority custody? Did you see the other parent on a regular basis? Do you think the divorce had a positive effect on your life? If so how? Did the divorce have a negative effect on your life? If so how? Did you experiment with drugs or alcohol after the divorce? If so at what age? Why? Do you feel the divorce led to you trying drugs or alcohol? If so why do you think? Do feel the divorce affected your mental state? Why? Do you feel the divorce has affected the relationships in your adult life? Why?
Observations Age didn’t make a difference There was negative out comes Guilt, abandonment , anger and serious bouts of depression
Conclusion Most of the people I interviewed seemed to have some kind of emotional baggage stemming from their parent’s divorce. I also learned that there are many factors that affect the way children react to the divorce and it may not be just the divorce itself. Divorce is always going to be a part of our lives but as a whole we need to educate people on the affects divorce has on a child. If we had more research on what the affects of divorce are on children and made it more available to the general public, maybe people would think more before they bring a child into an unstable environment or into a single parent household.
Bibliography Beata Jablonska and Lene Lindberg.(2007). Risk Behaviours, Victimisation and Mental Distress Among Adolescents in Different Family Structures. Soc. Psychiatry PsychiatrEpidemiol, 656-633 Kimmel, M. (2011). The Gendered Society, Fourth Addition. New York, New York: Oxford University Saposnek, D. T. (2002). How Are the Children of Divorce Doing. Mediate .