The effects of divorce on children can be devastating. A multitude of research studies show that children who come from divorced families exhibit more behavioral and adjustment issues than individuals who come from remarried or divorced parents . This paper will examine two journal articles that examine the impact of divorce on children. One study is from the parents’ perception of how the child is handling the new family system; the other article analyzes several longitudinal studies that incorporate the parents and children’s perspectives.
The article “The Effects of Divorce on Children: Married and Divorced Parents’ Perspectives” by Moon (2011), focused on how parents perceived their children to be handling their divorce. The study used a sample size of 232 participants, including married and divorced mothers and fathers. Subjects came from diverse ethnicities, such as Caucasian, African-American, Native American, Asian American, and Hispanic/Latino and were from different occupations. Parents were asked to complete an 18-item questionnaire, called the “Effects of Parent Divorce Scale.” Thus scale examined parental views on the perceived effects their divorce had on their kids. Questions pertaining to the perceptions of the child’s emotional stability, as well as the parents’ own feelings about children being raised by divorced parents were included. Higher scores showed more negative perceptions about how parents feel their child is dealing with the divorce .
Results showed that parents who had remarried and also had parents who were still married, scored the highest on scale, feeling their own divorce had a detrimental impact on their offspring. However, children who lived in families that had divorced and also had grandparents who had divorced, received more positive perception ratings. Parents who had initiated the divorce felt that their children handled the divorce more positively, versus parents who did not initiate the separation .
The journal article “The Long-Term Effects of Divorce on Children: A Review” by Wallerstein (1991), examined seven longitudinal studies that analyzed the effects of divorce on children, from ages three to adulthood. Findings from these studies showed that a great number of children from divorce showed long-term effects, including more negative psychological well-being, physical health, commitment issues in relationships, and flashbacks of the divorce. Children of divorce are also more prone to anxiety, depression, and impulse control problems. Some of these consequences did not manifest until an individual was in periods of developmental transition, such as the teenage and early adult years .
Additional results of the studies suggest that for a child who is the product of divorce, the dissolution of the parents’ marriage is not just an isolated incident. The divorce continues to affect the family with a different set of experiences that can follow a child throughout life . The Wallerstein (1991) study also showed that a divorce often results in major changes in the parent-child relationship. Perpetual hostility between the parents can negatively affect the child and the parent-child relationship, this heightened parent conflict sometimes associated with mental health issues in one or both parents. Findings from the review also suggested that children who were more damaged by their parents’ initial break-up and had difficulty adjusting to new family stressors did not cope as well with their parents’ divorce over the long-term .
The studies by Moon (2011) and Wallerstein (1991) showed the detrimental effects that divorce can have on children, including problems related to mental and physical health, intimate relationships, impulsivity, aggression, and psychological adjustment. Factors of the parents’ divorce, including increased tension and conflict between the parents, can negatively impact the parent-child relationship. New forms of family have emerged in recent years, creating more research opportunities. With more families being headed by gay parents, new avenues of future research include how well children of divorced gay parents fare versus children of heterosexual parents.
- Moon, M. (2011). The effects of divorce on children: married and divorced parents’ perspectives. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 344-349.
- Wallerstein, J. S. (1991). The long-term effects of divorce on children: a review. Journal of American Academy of Child and Adolsecent Psychiatry, 349-360.