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Divorce Online Article

Divorce Online Article

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Published by: humanupgrade on Mar 16, 2009
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Don VelasquezAugust 21, 2008Writing in DisciplineMTH 1200-1330
URL: http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Effects-Divorce-Family39s-Well-Being/60178Download Date: Aug. 19, 2008
A Bit about Divorce and the Effects of Divorce on a Family's Well Being
Boy meets girl. Girl and boy fall in love and get married. Girl and boy have children and life could not possibly get any better. Many years later: Boy and girl start to notice something different in their relationship, something wrong. They decidethat their relationship is over, whether they're both happy with that decision or not and they divorce. Boy and girl's children seethem divorce. Children process the divorce in different ways, and it stays with them for the rest of their lives. People whoexperience a divorce are affected by it, whether they want to be or not. More often than not, those effects are negative. Beforeany parents make a rash decision, and before any children put judgment on their parents for messing them up, let's take a look atthe thing people call DIVORCE and how it affects those involved.We all know what divorce is, but the official definition is very interesting and has a little more power.Merriam-Webster defines it as such: 1 : the action or an instance of legally dissolving a marriage; 2 : separation,severance; 3 a : to end marriage with (one's spouse) by divorce; b : to dissolve the marriage contract between; 4 : to terminate anexisting relationship or union (www.Merriam-Webster.com). As you can see, the definition of divorce doesn't include the words, joyful, happy and wonderful, especially for children.How common is divorce in America? Statistically a great amount of married couples in the United Sates are choosingdivorce. In 2003 in America, approximately 45 percent of couples in their first marriages ended in divorce. The divorce rate for couples in second marriages was 58 percent (smartmarraiges.com). Then there are those couples who have thought aboutdivorce, but for different reasons decided to stay married. A Gallup Poll in the United States found that 40 percent of marriedindividuals had considered leaving their partners, and 20 percent said they were dissatisfied with their marriage about half thetime (Olson and Defrain 1994, p. 6). According to the U.S. Census, the total numbers of U.S. divorces reported finalizedannually were 957,200 in 2000 and 944,317 in 1998. If Americans keep this rate up, we will proudly be reporting years fromnow, an annual divorce rate of higher numbers than we would like to think of (www.census.gov/pop/maritalstatus
).It is no secret that divorce is not the most pleasant event in a family. Parents should take note that psychologists aroundthe nation agree: Divorce can be a heartbreaking event to an entire family. Michele Weiner Davis, who is a therapist and Author said: The decision to divorce or remain together to work things out is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Itis crucial for those considering divorce to anticipate what lies ahead in order to make informed decisions. Too often the falloutfrom divorce is far more devastating than many people realize when contemplating the move. (Davis 1992, p.25)These consequences of divorce can also include feelings that some couples don't anticipate once the divorce is over anddone with, and those feelings are ones of regret. In a study done by William J. Doherty, 66 percent of the divorced couples hesurveyed answered "yes" to the question, "Do you wish you and your ex-spouse had tried harder to work through your differences?" 66 percent is a stunning number when you are talking about regret of a life altering decision (1999, p.6). Clearly,divorce should not be a "spur of the moment" decision. The decision to divorce should be methodically thought through andallowed plenty of time.Some people may be exempt from the hard driven message of staying married that is enforced in this paper, because of the certain type of situation they may find themselves in. We need to be mindful of those people who have elected to finish their marriage. There are some situations where divorce should be considered a good option. These special situations make up severaldifferent categories: Abuse-mental or physical, psychosis or extreme mental illness, chronic addiction and substance abuse(Medved 1989, pp.103-130). Divorce in these situations is most often in the best interest of those involved, but that doesn'tmean that it will not affect them. In these special cases the effects of divorce can still be very severe. People, who divorce,especially for the reasons noted, are often in need of help and support from all their social groups and most importantly, their family and friends. This is definitely the case where children are involved. Going through a divorce is hard, and adjusting to itcan take a long time. Diane Medved also notes that because you may not know to what extreme the divorce can affect you,couples, especially ones with children, should get counseling or therapy before, during, and after the separation for themselves
and their children. They should take advantage of organizations (religious leaders and community support groups) that can helplessen the shock of divorce both before and after it happens.In speaking of the effects of divorce, let's focus now on the children. Each year, over 1 million American children gothrough the divorce of their parents; also, half of the children born this year to parents who are married will see their parentsdivorce before they turn 18 (U.S. Census, 1992). Despite a general finding across many studies about negative effects onchildren due to divorce, there are important qualifications of these findings. Overall, the children are more alike than different.Dr. Paul Amato reminds us that average differences do not mean that all children in divorced families are worse off than allchildren in intact families. However, there are effects on many children from divorced families who have significant problems(1997, p.37).A Factor that plays a huge part in a child's adjustment and management with divorce is the amount of parental conflictin their parent's marriage. Children, who come from homes where parental conflict is high, are not worse off nor not better off on the average. Compare them to children who come from homes where parental conflict is low and their parents divorce. Thechildren from low conflict homes have a much harder time coping and dealing with the breakup. Studies show that children whocome from divorced homes are at a disadvantage from the beginning because they are always compared children whose parentsare married. (Hansen 1999, p. 1)In some cases, divorce can cause serious mental and emotional distress in children. In fact, a study done by Paul Amatoand Bruce Keith shows that children of divorced parents, compared with those living with married parents, scored lower onmeasures of academic achievement, conduct, psychological adjustment, social relations, self concept, and the quality of mother-child and father-child relationships. These children also scored significantly lower on measures of cognitive ability, socialability, behavioral problems and attachment security (1991, p.4). Children from divorced homes often suffer from low self-esteem, low sense of well-being, and a very low sense of self-concept. Social researcher, Carolyn B. Murray, had this to say about the effects of divorce on children: I caught glimpses of along-term effect in my research that followed the children into late adolescence and early adulthood, but it's not until now--when the children are fully grown--that I can finally see the whole picture. Divorce is a life-transforming experience. After divorce, childhood is different. Adolescence is different. In my research, children from divorced homes, tended to have poor student outcomes (i.e., lower academic performance, weaker self esteem, and increased behavioral problems), depression,anxiety, and social detachment even before divorce occurs. Specifically, adolescents from pre-disrupted families have poorer  performance in every area of well-being (2000, pp. 475-490).It is apparent that a large number of children who come through the experience of divorce later become capable andstable adults, but it is also becoming more and more evident that many children of divorce are at threat for developing damaging behaviors, personality disorders, and disruptive lifestyles.Increasing evidence in social science journals makes obvious that the devastating physical and emotional effects that divorce ishaving on children will last well into their adulthood. Along with these damaging effects are the following according to socialscientists for the Heritage Foundation of Family, Patrick F. Fagan and Robert Rector:• Children whose parents have divorced are increasingly the victims of abuse. They exhibit more health, behavioral, andemotional problems; are involved more frequently in crime and drug abuse; and have higher rates of suicide.• Children of divorced parents perform more poorly in reading, spelling, and math. They are also more likely to repeat a gradeand to have higher drop-out rates and lower rates of college graduation.• Families with children that were not poor before the divorce see their income drop as much as 50 percent. Almost 50 percentof the parents with children that are going through a divorce move into poverty after the divorce.Religious worship, which has been linked to better health, longer marriages, and better family life drops after the parentsdivorce.• The divorce of parents, even if it is amicable, tears apart the fundamental unit of American society. Today, according to theFederal Reserve Board's 1995 Survey of Consumer Finance, only 42 percent of children aged 14-18 live in a "first marriage"family—an intact two-parent family. "It should be no surprise to find that divorce is having such effects on society."(www.heritage.org/fagandivorce).Recent research shows that a majority of children from a divorced family do not display the problems we just talkedabout openly, and these problems cannot be outwardly noticed or measured. Sometimes children can suffer emotional problemsthat go unnoticed because of the lack of display (Lauman-Billings and Emery 2000, pp. 680-687).
 Not all children are the same. Some of the variables in the adjustment of children to parental divorce are (1) age of child at divorce, (2) amount of conflict in the marriage, (3) access to both parents after the divorce, (4) adjustment to a step- parent, if there is one and (5) access to other nurturing adults during the childhood years (Wagner, Johnson, Vandell, Burroughs1997, p. 85). These elements can play a huge part in the severity of the effects that a child will feel. Their research has alsoshown that children who go through a divorce will more than likely; experience negative consequences and the outcomes for allindividual children will offer a wide range of end results.The aftermath of a divorce can even affect a child's intimate relationships down the road, for instance marriage anddating. Children often hold on to their parent's attitude toward divorce when the children are in their late teens during the timeof their parents divorce. Also, children who are very young but also very religious also seem to hold on to their parents attitudestoward divorce. The children's characteristics and relationship experiences are related to their attitude toward divorce. Havingdivorced parents was very much so associated with significantly more relationship disruptions in the children's intimate lives, but it didn't seem to affect the children's martial status. Thankfully relationship of marriage in a child's own life seems to remainintact, even through parental divorce (Kapinus 2004, pp. 112-135).In a study done by Judson T. Landis, 295 university aged students whose parents divorced before they were 16 yearsold were asked whether or not their parents divorce had an impact on how they viewed marriage. 67.5 percent said that it hasmade them more cautious about marriage, 60.0 percent said they were determined to make a better choice when it came to aspouse, 76.9 percent said that it has made them more aware of the problems of marriage, 53.9 percent said it gave them a morerealistic picture of marriage (but how accurate is that picture?) , and 76.6 percent said that they were more determined to work at having a successful marriage. Thankfully only 1.7 percent said that they were bitter about marriage and 1.0 percent said thatthey never wanted to get married (1960, p. 11). Those numbers may give hope to those parents who may think they have ruinedtheir child's relationships for life, due to the optimistic nature of its statistics. If you finish reading this study, however, you willfind that the overall consequences of divorce on these 295 students were more negative than positive.Divorce definitely affects children, but it also affects the parents as well. Is there something to help the parents? What if there was a medication on the market that made you live longer, be happier, be more satisfied with your life and feel morecomplete? Do you think it would sell very well? One would think it would be a best seller. What if you found out thatmedication was marriage? Men and women who are married actually have a better general sense of well being compared toothers who are not. Studies have shown over decades that married people are healthier (physically and mentally); they livelonger, enjoy life and believe it is more fulfilled, and they seem to take better care of themselves as well as their spouse (Stanton1997, p. 73). But does one see this type of information presented when the topic of family arises in popular debates? No.Marriage seems to be a best kept secret; it is more than a legally binding piece of paper between two people. Divorce seems to be the nemesis to a happy and fulfilled life.According to the National Survey of Families and Households, 86 percent of married couples who stick it out throughthe hard times found that five years later, they had a better marriage than ever, that they are happier in their life than they haveever been, they feel better and they are grateful that they did not make a poor decision (www.nsfa.com exact reference needed).Despite this good news, couples are still divorcing and families are being torn apart.Everyone goes through a divorce differently, but there is no doubt that divorce is hard for everyone involved. The people who suffer the most are always the children. They are the future and they need to reach their full potential. By makinggood decisions, we can raise them to far exceed their full potential. By being educated on divorce we make better decisionsabout marital problems. Hopefully people will think twice about the future effects for them and their family before they ask for a divorce. Remember, a divorce affects everyone involved, and those affects are almost always negative.

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