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Divorce can be defined as the final termination of a marital union. A divorced couple has no legal duty or marriage responsibilities. Today, most states have changed their laws to allow either party in marriage to get a divorce if she/he states in court that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Stewart and Brentano cited that the reform of divorce laws and factors related to societal and economic conditions, and the rise of feminism has made it easy for citizens to access divorce. This has led to a steady growth of the rate of divorce especially that of the Western countries such as Canada. However, it must be noted that even though divorce ends marriage, it does not end a family. This is particularly so to the children whose relationship with each parent continues after divorce.
Common Misconceptions about Divorce by Parents/ Pros
Divorce does not have any positive long-term effect on the children involved. Instead, any divorce is guided by certain assumptions that adults have made about children. Unfortunately, such assumptions only seek to serve the parent’s interests while neglecting the emotional needs of their children (Meyer, 2011). First, parents assume that if they are able to lead a happier life then their children will automatically be happier. This assumption is not true as most of the children’s major concern is seeing their families stick together. Children’s happiness is not dependent on their parents’ happiness but on continuing with their life normally. Divorce only works to alter every aspect of the child’s life thus making it difficult for them to cope with life.
Secondly, most parents assume that divorce would save their children from the trauma related to family conflicts. The assumption here is that children will always be happy as long as their parents are not fighting. Such a belief only serves to prevent the parents from dealing with the long term effect of divorce while redirecting their attention to the process of divorce. Studies have shown that most children are never very concerned about the relationship between their divorced parents but about the sadness of seeing their family breaking up.
Long-term Cons/Negative Effects of Divorce on Children
Divorce entirely changes the children’s concept of the world as a safe and reliable place. From the onset of divorce, children are affected by seeing their parents fight over their custody. What makes the issue of divorce even more complicated is the difficulty in predicting its possible long-term effects on children. Such problems as those related to parent-child relations associated with divorce often persist throughout the life of a child.
The first common long-term negative impact is related to the “slippery effect” concept. The concept explains that even though children often recover quickly from the effects of divorce, their feelings about the same may reemerge in their latter stages of life (Matthews, 2010). According to the concept, there is always denied feelings at a subconscious level just after divorce. This may makes it take a long time before such feelings are expressed. The concept has been used to explain the interrelationship related difficulties especially those experienced during the time such individuals want to enter into committed relationships. They are revisited by fear, anger, guilt and anxiety triggered by the initial betrayal and failure in their parental relationships. This normally causes them a lot of emotional distress during the transition period.
Studies have also found out that these individuals are likely to end up in lower economic status, lower education levels, and high level of depression. Most single parents are faced with the challenge of having to raise their children with limited financial resources. The majority of their children therefore gives up on education and as a result settles for low paying jobs. The result is that they often find themselves in lower socioeconomic status leading a life characterized by depression. The same cycle is always repeated among their future generations.
Studies have also revealed that children from divorced parents are likely to have problems in their marriage. Such problems may include marrying at a younger age and that of remarrying. Some scholars have attributed these problems to the delay in maturation and emotional instability. The marriage rates of children from divorced families are also normally lower than those of the children brought up in intact families. Instead, they have shown increased rate of cohabitation.
Children who go through divorce often have low self esteem because of the belief that they may have been responsible for their parents divorce. Lastly, such children normally feel insecure because of the fear of being abandoned by the parents and the resulting consequences.
Factors Determining the Effects of Divorce on Children
The first factor is gender. Studies have shown that boys are more at risk than girls. This is majorly because in most cases, it is the mothers who are awarded custody. This means that the boy-child in a divorced family always have to grow up without the male role-model making it hard for them to adjust. The second factor is age. The most affected at long-term are the pre-adolescent and adolescent children. They normally don’t experience problems in the short-term because their close relationship with their peers often represses their feelings regarding their parent’s divorce.
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Another factor is the resulting socio-economic status. The economic status of these children normally depends on their kind of relationship they have with their parents and the support the parents give them (Amato & Cheadle, 2008). In worst cases, the children may not even be able to meet their basic needs causing much depression. Research has also shown that children who are directly involved in the conflict between their parents always suffer more from frustration, anger and loyalty.
The other factors are those on the part of the parents. The parents’ continual open conflicts and fight over custody often worsens the state of their children. At the same time a perceived loss of the non-custodian parent may make the child feel abandoned.
Neutrality with Clients
As a family and couples’ therapist, my roles would remain limited to ensuring improved home-life before separation and enhancing the future security of the involved children. My focus would be purely to reduce the possibility of any long-term psychological damage on my clients. This I would do by giving advices that would enable both the children and their parents enjoy a happy life even after the divorce. I believe it is possible for me to remain value neutral with my clients while accomplishing these tasks. This I would achieve by avoiding any form of judgment regarding my client’s attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors related to marriage and divorce issues.
In conclusion, it is clear that there is need for more research on this subject. This would help determine the kind of interventions that would reduce the long-term effects of divorce on children. Such studies should also examine the appropriate coping strategies for children from divorced homosexuals. Because of the increasing rate of divorce, specific programs seeking to desensitize children on divorce should also be designed and implemented. Finally, divorce is never the best solution to any conflicting couples.
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