When a boat is sinking, all the passengers are given life preservers. When a marriage comes to an end, a similar state of emergency exists, but no one hands you a life preserver. You and your children are on your own, thrashing about, trying hard to survive. Many parents in this situation feel like helpless, frightened children themselves, wishing someone or something would save them. Imagine, then, how devastated and powerless children feel. A separation and divorce is a shocking experience for them, for their very existence depends on their parents. They sustain tremendous losses and experience great pain, during, and after divorce. This crisis and tragedy of divorce is that this time, when parents are usually least able to help or even think about helping, is when children need their help most of all (Bienfeld,1).
The effects of divorce on children can be devastating. To children, divorce does not mean the second chance that it so often means to one or both parents. To children it is the loss of their family – the entity that provides them with support, stability, security, and continuity in an often unpredictable world (Bienenfeld, 92).
Children assume that their family is a given and that their parents are permanent. Studies uniformly find that divorce is a jolt to most children. Even youngsters that have lived in tense, conflict-ridden home for many years seldom think of divorce as a remedy for unhappiness; the remedy would be for parents to stop fighting (92).
... to be the most important people in their children's lives. Children of divorced parents live in unstable family households and are at a ... disruption creates a deep division in parents' interests and the interests of children. During the time of divorce, parents fail to meet their parental ...
When suddenly divorce becomes reality, the assumptions children have accepted as givens and the structure they have relied on crumble, they feel not only vulnerable but powerless to have any influence on a situation the profoundly impacts their lives. During a divorce children’s feelings become extremely confused. Many children feel intensely rejected, perceiving that the parent is leaving them as well as the spouse. Intense fears of abandonment are not uncommon. In the widely cited California Children of Divorce study, Judith Wallerstein and Joan Kelly found that one-half of the children they studied were intensely afraid of being abandoned by their fathers, while one-third feared abandonment by their mothers. A few even feared they would be placed in foster homes. Not suprisingly, children’s self-esteem frequently takes a plunge after divorce. The majority of children are intensely sad and feel a deep sense of loss – of their family, their security, even their daily routines and family traditions (93).
Many children have little control over their tears. Here is how a fourteen-year-old girl described how she felt when her parents were divorcing: “The divorce really affected me emotionally. I just felt bad all the time, I used to cry a lot, and when I wasn’t crying, I would feel like crying…. it was just a terrible time in my life” Anger, also, is a fairly common reaction among children going through a divorce. Many feel betrayed by the very people they have trusted to protect and care for them. They feel no one is considering their needs, and they feel powerless to change the situation that is disrupting their lives. Some children hide their anger, fearing it will further upset or alienate their parents. Others have explosive outbursts. While some act out their anger in temper tantrum, noncompliance, aggressiveness. destructiveness, rebelliousness, and Some youngsters, especially younger ones, are haunted by gnawing feelings that they are responsible for the divorce (91).
Some will remember overhearing fights concerning them, while others will remember their parents’ upset over their fights with their siblings. Some, even, will turn into model children, hoping they can undo the damage they think they have done. One child confessed the following the her mother years later: I felt I was being punished by God for being really bad, so I tried being really good so God would change His mind… and let Dad come home On the other hand, some youngsters feel relief when their parents divorce, although, it appears that this happens to only a relative few. One widely cited study found that fewer than ten percent felt this way – most often older children who lived in fear that the violence in the their homes would end in physical injury (Clapp, 94).
... divorce in children depend on many variables, including the child's age; the pre-divorce level of the family's psychosocial functioning; the parents' ... uncomfortable with gender identity and feel rejected and deceived by the absent parent. School performance may decrease, and ... of the divorce situation, fear that they will be abandoned, and have more nightmares and fantasies. School-aged children may ...
Several studies have reported that initial feelings of relief are sometimes temporary and are later replaced by sadness and anger. Do children of different ages react differently to divorce? Some people feel that divorce is easier on older children because they have more sources of support outside the family. However, divorce causes a unique set of problems for older children that do not concern their younger siblings (100).
There is no clear-cut evidence that divorce is markedly easier on one age group than on another. Children of all ages experience intense sadness, anger, anxiety, fear, rejection, and loneliness (100).
However, studies find that age does affect children’s initial reactions to divorce: It appears that each age group has its own Even infants, who seem oblivious to their surroundings, are affected by divorce because of the upset and tension transmitted to them by their parents, disruptions in their routines, and lapses in their care due to their parents’ distress. Toddlers, also, tend to become irritable and aggressive, have temper tantrums, and regress to earlier forms of behavior in response to the stress in their homes and the sudden disappearance of a parent. Children between the ages of three and five-and-a-half (preschoolers) show the most dramatic changes in behavior due to divorce. Having a poor grasp of what is happening, they become bewildered and frightened. Preschoolers see their parents as one unit; therefore, once one leaves they become terrified that the other will abandon them, too (100).
Routine separations become traumatic. So do bedtimes, because these little ones fear no one will be there when they wake up. For the same reason they start waking up and crying during the night. Because of their intellectual stage of development, preschoolers think that the world revolves around them. This explains why they so often believe that the divorce is their fault and that the departing parent is Preschoolers are overwhelmed with anxiety, and they tend to express it in ways most parents find abhorrent: irritability, clinging, whining, increased aggressiveness, and temper tantrums. Due to their insecurity, these youngsters also generally lose their most recently acquired skills and regress to younger behavior (101).
When I was younger, scraped knees were a daily thing and whenever that happened I would always run to the most important person in my life for help: my mom. To a child, a parent is someone that can care for and love them. Children start their attachments during infancy. Moreover does a person have to be biologically related to be a parent to a child, and does it affect the relationship to a ...
A return to toilet training accidents, security blankets, old toys, and thumb sucking are common. Regression to younger behaviors are transient and generally last from a few weeks to a few months (101).
Generally, six-to-eight-year-old children, particularly boys, are the most openly grief stricken. They feel the most loss and despair, and yearn the most for their absent parent. They believe that their family unit is vital for their survival. Their anguish is so deep that they can not concentrate in school or Also, they re very susceptible to feelings of abandonment and rejection. They worry that they will be replaced. These young ones try to be loyal to both parents and end up feeling torn apart, and they tend to redirect their anger on to A shaken sense of identity and of right and wrong tends to plague nine-to-twelve-year-olds. This is the age of grappling with these issues, and children usually rely heavily on their parents’ identity and values in defining their own (102).
Their distress is usually expressed in physical complaints, such as headaches and stomachaches. They try to immerse themselves in activities to offset their feelings of powerlessness. The most distinguishing reaction for a significant percentage of nine-to-twelve-year-olds, however, is their intense anger that they direct at one or both parents, usually whomever they blame for the divorce. Children at this age reason that their parents could reconcile their differences if they tried hard enough and bitterly accuse their parents of selfishness and indifference to their They are also easily pulled into a bitter and open alliance with one parent against the other. By doing this they feel needed, important, and powerful. However, most of these children grow to eventually resent the parent they align Many parents are suprised to find out just how deeply their teens are affected by divorce. Adolescents tend to react with a deep sense of loss, grief, anger, feelings of emptiness, difficulty concentrating, and chronic fatigue (Clapp, 104).
... p. 29). Other studies report children feeling that their childhoods have ended when their parent’s divorces became finalized (Wallerstein and ... cognitions. As the relationship grows, the child feels heard and understood, necessary feelings of self-worth and self- ... children must resolve the following psychological tasks; 1) Acknowledging the reality of the divorce, 2) Disengaging from parental conflict ...
They also start to worry about their future and some become put off with the idea of marriage. They come to associate marriage with pain. Divorce affects teens differently. Some become mature, insightful and empathetic. Some abandon friends, interests, and activities. While others express their distress, anger, and internal conflicts in potentially harmful ways: promiscuity, alcohol, drugs, or delinquent activities. Many adolescents cope with their parents’ divorces by distancing themselves from the crisis at home and looking for support on the outside – from peers, parents of friends, teachers, and so forth. Unless this outside support is detrimental, this distancing usually helps teens cope successfully with the divorce, and most become reinvolved with the family once the turmoil is ended Most children do adjust successfully to their parents’ divorce, but a statistically significant minority develop long term problems (Clapp, 106).
Why do these children have long term problems? Why are these problems sometimes worse several years after the divorce than they were during the divorce itself? The answer is that some families do not regain their equilibrium after divorce but become stalled in a chronic state of stress, instability, and transition. According to Drs. Judith Wallerstein and Joan Kelly, who conducted a ten year study of children of divorce, if children are deprived of one of their parents, or if their parents quarrel and compete, children tend to have lower self-esteem. Psychological damage often occurs, and children may develop such serious symptoms as anxiety, depression, regression, sleep disturbances including sleep walking and nightmares, asthma, allergies, bedwetting, tantrums, and tics. They may grind their teeth, vomit, become clinging or overaggressive, begin daydreaming, or withdraw from relationships. Overeating or loss of appetite, poor school performance, delinquent behavior, self-destructive behavior, alcohol or drug abuse, frequent crying or absence of emotion, and difficulty in communication feelings are other symptoms (Bienenfeld, 4).
... parent household.Although some of these children are born into single parent families, many more are the product of divorce, and are made to endure the conflict ... anxiety and divided loyalties that the children may feel. Among the already dreary statistics, children of single parent households are at risk for becoming ...
Professional counseling should be sought for these long term symptoms. Even when parents are upset and in pain themselves, it is essential that they consider their children. Children should not be kept waiting until their parents finally get their lives together. They need at least a tolerable situation in which the can recover from the divorce. Children need coping with divorce. They take it very hard. They, go through a classical mourning process after divorce, much as if someone close to them has died. First they experience disbelief; then anxiety, anger, sadness, and depression; and eventually, if given reassurance, acceptance of the divorce and healing. This process can take up to a year or longer. To recover, feel secure, and succeed they need to be told, to believe, and to feel that their mother and father both love them and have every intention of continuing to take care of them, even though they will now live apart (8).
No matter what has gone on between parents, children have a strong need to look up to and have a good relationship with each of them. They need frequent and ongoing interaction with both parents. This can make a child feel secure and prevent feelings of rejection and abandonment. Most of all, children need parental cooperation after divorce. They need parents who are willing to work together. According to Dr. Bienenfeld, parents 1. Stop blaming the other parent or yourself for what happened in the past. Realize that the past is behind you and cannot 2. Realize that your child needs two parents. Be willing to share your child with the other parent. 3. In your discussions with the other parent, stick to issues 4. Stay focused on your child’s needs today and from now on. 5. Work together with the other parent to provide your child with as safe and as conflict-free an environment as possible 6. Make every effort to be civil to your former spouse, and defuse tension and animosity so that your child can have a peaceful and satisfying life (9).
The common saying “adolescence begins in biology and ends in culture” denotes the dramatic changes during puberty while signs for adult transition are sociologically defined (Smetana, Campione-Barr, and Metzger, 2006). It was generally observed that conflict between youth and their parents arises during their adolescent period (Allison, 2000). Adolescents tend to judge the latter as irrational and ...
It is an act of love and caring and a sign of strength for a parent to seek appropriate assistance for themselves or their children. Many couples believe that is better for the children if they stay together instead of divorcing. They question themselves, “should we stay together for the sake of the children?” Is there an answer to this question? According to Dr. Clapp (108) the following findings may help with the answer. –Children from conflict-ridden homes have more adjustment and behavior problems than do children from conflict-free homes.
–Parental conflict is more damaging to children the longer it continues, the more it is openly hostile, and the more it focuses –Children from conflict-free single-parent families are usually adjusted than children from discordant intact families. –Continued parental conflict is more damaging to children who gone through parental divorce than for children who remain in These findings have led a large number of researchers and mental health professionals to conclude that divorce may provide a better environment for children when their alternative is living in a conflict-ridden intact family. The catch, however, is that the conflict must end with the divorce, or the children are likely to be worse off. This conclusion also assumes that the postdivorce family will not continue in a chronic state of stress and tension. Difficult as a divorce is for parents, it is truly devastating for children, since they are completely dependent on their parents. Often, they do not know what is happening, and the guessing and uncertainty create traumas that may surface and demand attention much later in life. Many children never get to voice their pain, anger, and frustration in the way their parents do.
As result, they tend to feel extremely helpless, isolated, and confused. Still, children are remarkably resilient. Although they experience great pain and feelings of loss, most children can and will recover if their parents allow them to heal. Bienenfeld, Florence PhD. Helping Your Child through Your Divorce. California: Clapp, Genevieve Phd. Divorce and New Beginnings: An authoritative guide to recovery and growth, solo parenting, and stepfamilies. New York: Franke, L. B. Growing Up Divorced. New York: Linden Press, 1983. Kalter, Neil. Growing Up With Divorce. New York: Macmillan, 1990. Krementz, J. How it Feels when your Parents Divorce. New York: Alfred A. Wallerstein, J.S. and Kelly, J. B. Surviving the Breakup. New York: Basic Books,