Divorce Influence on Childrens’ Mental Health

Abstract

The essay examines the impact of divorce on children because they are the major victims of divorce. Preschool children, school-age children, and adolescents are the most affected by divorce because they are highly dependent on their parents for care, protection, and support. Divorce is a painful experience, and therefore, the state should encourage lasting marriage and discourage divorce. Furthermore, professional counseling on the effects of divorce and ways of managing post-divorce experiences is very important to the victims of divorce, families, and society.

Introduction

Divorce is the termination of a marriage between two married partners, which leads to the dissolution of bonds that unite family members. Furthermore, divorce results in the cancelation of lawful duties and responsibilities appertaining marriage. Fundamentally, divorce is a very disturbing experience, which has severe effects on parents and children. Divorce affects aspects of people such as financial stability, social lives, and psychological health (Nair & Murray, 2005).

The most affected members of the family are the children, especially those with tender ages. Divorce greatly affects pre-school children, school-age children, and adolescents, because they have an emotional attachment to their parents. In this view, the essay examines and compares the effect of divorce on preschool children, school-age children, and adolescents.

Impact of Divorce on Preschool Children

Preschool children are young children who have not commenced their education. These children are highly dependent on their parents for emotional and social support. According to the attachment theory, the absence of protection, care, and support from parents leads to disorganized or anxious types of attachments (Storksen, Roysamb, Gjessing, Moum, & Tambs, 2007). Since divorce leads to separation of parents who are the major caregivers, it affects the attachment between them and their children.

Thus, children develop feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear. Kail and Cavanaugh (2012) note that pre-school children are very delicate to handle because they are susceptible to social and emotional factors in their environment. Feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, trauma, rejection, and abandonment develop in the minds of children following the occurrence of divorce.

Impact of Divorce on School-Age Children

School-age children comprise another category of individuals who are highly affected by a divorce. Divorce greatly affects their education and leads to poor performance, because it initiates feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, and anger in the minds of the children. These feelings transpire because children feel that their parents do not love them. The exodus of one parent significantly disorients the bond or attachment between the parents and the children.

According to Wijckmans and Van-Bavel (2013), since divorce involves one of the parents separating from the rest of the family, it greatly affects the daily lives of the family and causes momentous effects on school-age children. School-age children become embarrassed before their peers and develop low self-esteem. The children feel ashamed and take time to adjust to the changes associated with the experience of divorce.

Impact of Divorce on Adolescents

Adolescents require a lot of attention, support, and care from parents because the absence of these factors affects their development. Thus, since divorce leads to the separation of the parents, it seriously affects the development of adolescents in a family (Storksen, Roysamb, Gjessing, Moum, & Tambs, 2007). Adolescents require parental support and attention on matters like gender, relationships, discipline, and decision-making. Thus, the absence of one parent leads to poor or impaired development among adolescents. Divorce hurts adolescents, and hence, makes them harbor feelings of hatred, guilt, anger, and resentment towards their parents.

Since many adolescents are at the school going stage, divorce affects their overall performance in school and social interactions with peers because they feel embarrassed and ashamed owing to post-divorce experiences.

How to Minimize the Number of Divorces

Infidelity, drug abuse, financial differences, and disrespect are some of the factors that lead to divorce in families. However, marriage is not a temporary event, but a lasting matrimonial union between two individuals. Thus, it is important for the individuals involved to take time to know each other well before marriage. Before marriage, partners should take time to know one another instead of rushing into a relationship due to excitement or desperation.

Married couples should learn to solve their differences in a calm and non-violent way without involving a third party in their affairs. According to Wijckmans and Van-Bavel (2013), the rate of divorce could reduce if spouses accept their conditions, appreciate their differences, and move on with their marriage. In this case, the couples need to focus on their strengths and try to improve their shortcomings. Notably, families should not compare themselves with other families but should understand that they are unique and exceptional in all aspects. Faithfulness, respect, and proper management of family finances are some of the key issues that minimize the occurrence of divorce.

How to Help Children Cope Effectively with Divorce

When a divorce takes place in a family, it has considerable effects on children. Since children are dependent on their parents for care, support, and protection, they feel the separation as an indication of reduced love, care, and support from their parents (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2012). Additionally, children look upon their parents as their first role models and thus acquire many behavioral traits and values from them. To minimize the effect of divorce on children, parents can ensure that the children do not experience any absence of care and support from both parents. Parents can achieve this objective by creating schedules were the separated members of the family visit and spend time with their children.

Consequently, parents should not complain concerning the divorce in the presence of the children, as this generates negative feelings among children (Nair & Murray, 2005). Remarkably, parents should not create an expression of their absence in the minds of children.

Provision of Support for the Parties Involved

As a professional counselor, one of the most important factors that spouses must address before or during divorce is the provision of support for children. Individuals involved must understand that young children do not know the implications of divorce. Therefore, involved partners must ensure that they consider the welfare of their children before and during the divorce process. Counseling of the involved parties, the parents and the children, requires a clear understanding of the main cause of the divorce (Storksen, Roysamb, Gjessing, Moum, & Tambs, 2007).

Enhanced understanding of the cause of the divorce provides a clear approach to the counseling procedure administered to the parents and the children. To minimize the divorce or its effects on families, as a professional counselor, I would encourage the families to resolve minor problems and avoid irrational judgments and unnecessary emotional flare-ups.

Conclusion

Divorce is a painful experience for the parents and the children because it has significant impacts on the emotional, social, and psychological aspects of their lives. Infidelity, distrust, and disrespect are the common causes of divorce. Children are the major victims of divorce as they end up with only one parent after divorce. The innocent victims of divorce are pre-school children, school-age children, and adolescents.

Hence, children develop feelings of hatred, anger, stress, and low self-esteem. Families need to know that marriage is a lasting union, which requires tolerance and encouragement. Therefore, spouses must correct minor problems and avoid making irrational decisions. Furthermore, the state must provide legal interventions to discourage divorce, encourage lasting marriage, and support victims of divorce to overcome psychological trauma.

References

Kail, R., & Cavanaugh, J. (2012). Human Development: A Lifespan View. New York: Cengage Learning.

Nair, H., & Murray, A., (2005). Predictors of Attachment Security in Pre-school Children from Intact and Divorced Families. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 166(3), 245-263.

Storksen, I, Roysamb, E., Gjessing, H., Moum, T., & Tambs, K. (2007). Marriage and Psychological Distress among Adult Offspring of Divorce: A Norwegian Study. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 48(6), 467-476.

Wijckmans, B., & Van-Bavel, J. (2013). Divorce and Adult Children’s Perceptions of Family Obligations. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 44(3), 291-310.