Effects of Divorce on a Child

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Divorce is a very common word in today's society. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage or a complete or radical severance of closely connected things"(Pickett, 2000). This dissolution of marriage has increased very rapidly in the past fifty years. In 1950 the ratio of divorce to marriage was one in every four; in 1977 that statistic became one in two. Currently one in every two first marriages results in divorce. In second marriages that figure is considerably higher, with a 67% average (National Vital Statistics Report, 2001). One critical aspect of divorce is often not taken into consideration: How it affects children. Every year 1.1 million children are affected by divorce (Benjamin, 2000). Children from divorce or separation often exhibit behavioral and long-term adjustment problems (Kelly, 2000). Throughout this paper I will discuss divorces effects on children at different age levels, how they react, and what can be done to help them.

When a couple with a child chooses to get a divorce this can have major impact on a child at any age. There are many causes of stress throughout the divorce process that can negatively affect children. First, negative reactions and behaviors are dependent upon the situation before the divorce. Some studies show that how much parents fight, how it is done, how it is resolved, and what precautions are taken to protect the children from it's effects are the most important predictors of child adjustment (Kelly, 2000). Meaning that if children are exposed to fights about custody, money, or the failing marriage they could feel the repercussions of their parents conflict. Next, divorce can cause children to have heightened fear...

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