The Impact of Divorce on Children

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In the United States today, we live in a society that has perhaps one of the highest rates of divorce amongst all other industrial nations at a rate averaging around 40 to 50 percent. Of that staggering rate of divorce, 60 percent of those involve children. Because of this, more than one million children go through their parents’ divorce each year. Now, during this time of divorce a great focus seems to be drawn between the adults, but at what point should we wonder about the children? What changes and potential consequences are thrust upon the child forced to go through what might be considered an extremely demanding ordeal such as his/her parents’ divorce. I will tackle this topic with the assistance of various resources that have already studied the matter and address the many varying developmental consequences upon a child impacted by divorce.

This topic is of particular personal interest to me as an adult that had gone through the complications of my parent’s divorce when I was younger. The divorce occurred when I was five years old while my older sister was ten. I only really remember taking the event hard, becoming withdrawn, and developing a fear that persisted into adulthood of being forgotten. While I have made great strides and adjusted fairly well, I feel, I realize that not all children are as lucky to cope nearly as easily. So I have always had an interest in the greater more damaging impacts that can occur to a child through poorly handled divorce.

To begin, divorce has the potential to be a tremendously painful event for any child regardless of developmental level or age, with many children having little to no methods of support to help them adjust and cope. A study was once performed that showed that und...

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...row off this unwanted sense of responsibility, to regress back to the last developmental milestone they had achieved. These children often afraid of being separated from their custodial parents and yearn for their lost parent. Children aged 6-8 will likely openly lament for the departed parent, and often fantasize about replacement or hoping for the parents to get back together in the future. It is especially difficult for children in this age group to understand or comprehend the permanence of divorce. Children aged 8-11 are exceptionally prone to feeling powerlessness or anger in the situation. Like the other groups, these children are still very susceptible to the feeling of grief at the loss of an intact family structure, and are more prone to place blame on one parent or another, and are more inclined toward taking care of the parent in lieu of their own needs.
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